House Speaker Mike Johnson campaigns with disgraced reality TV star Josh Duggar, connected to accused sex offenders and mentor Tony Perkins
Speaker Mike Johnson has been associated with right-wing activists with a history of overlooking sexual abuse of minors.
House Speaker Mike Johnson, a self-identified Christian conservative, has been vocal about his views on sex and marriage, stating that sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is ultimately destructive. In 2022, Johnson introduced the Stop the Sexualization of Children Act, which he believes is necessary to prevent young children from being exposed to sexual imagery by Democrats. However, a review of Johnson's social media and political affiliations revealed that he has ties to right-wing activists who have overlooked, tolerated, or ignored the sexual abuse of children and teens.
One of the most notable associations is with disgraced reality TV star Josh Duggar, who was convicted of possessing child pornography in 2021. Duggar worked as a lobbyist for the Christian evangelical activist group Family Research Council (FRC) from 2013 to 2015, a group led by Tony Perkins, a close friend and political ally of Johnson. A photo posted to Johnson's Facebook account shows him campaigning with Duggar in 2014, and he described Duggar as a "friend." Johnson's association with Duggar raises questions about his commitment to preventing sexual abuse.
Duggar's history of sexual abuse, as well as other allegations of sexual impropriety involving minors, have been linked to individuals associated with Perkins and the FRC. For example, retired judge Paul Pressler, a key figure in the Southern Baptist Convention, was accused of sexually abusing minors, and emails have indicated that church leaders and local GOP politicians were aware of these allegations. In another case, a young Ohio conservative politician and Perkins acolyte was accused of groping an 18-year-old college student, and Perkins urged him not to run for office but did not make the incident public.
Johnson's association with individuals linked to sexual abuse raises concerns about his commitment to protecting children from harm. While Johnson's spokesperson has distanced him from these individuals, the connections raise questions about his judgment and priorities. The Speaker's unawareness of these claims is questionable, and his dismissal of the allegations as a "pathetic attempt at a hit job" is concerning. The lack of response from Perkins and Duggar's family lawyers further adds to the perplexity surrounding these associations.