Birds of a feather

A while back, the Reverend Jerry Johnston, intolerant blowhard extraordinaire, was revealed to have been skimming the till from his First Family Church. It’s the all-too-familiar tale of a conservative megachurch with a TV audience. Family on the payroll, bogus accounting, a lavish lifestyle for the Rev. and his family, and dubious uses of religious tax exemptions for non-church operations (this will sound oddly familiar to those who’ve been reading the obituaries for Jerry Falwell, who got into comparably hot water early in his career). These various lines of evidence were pulled together in a series of reports by the Kansas City Star.

State Attorney General Morrison launched an investigation into complaints by former staff members. Phill Kline, his predecessor and now the District Attorney for FFC’s county, lashed out at Morrison and the Star:

Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline has accused Attorney General Paul Morrison ? and The Kansas City Star ? of “reputational slander” in connection with the Rev. Jerry Johnston and his First Family Church.

In a private e-mail distributed to subscribers of the Kansas Conservative Network, Kline says the newspaper?s coverage and Morrison?s review of the church?s finances will cause a “whisper campaign (to) accelerate and a ministry will be harmed.”

Tony of Tony’s KC observes:

To date, I can’t think of one politico who has stood up in support of Johnston and I can’t make sense of this move by Kline, unless he wants a talk show or something of that sort.

But Tony has forgotten that Phill Kline and Jerry Johnston both did the same thing, they used churches as piggy banks. One of the reasons Kline got demoted from state office to a county office was a memo that leaked out of his campaign in which he laid out how he wanted to skirt laws preventing partisan uses of churches. A classic line from that memo read “Get me out? I’m spending too long at these events.” Later on in the memo, he explained that he only wanted to meet with people if he could get cash or media out of the deal.

Kline and Johnston are birds of a feather. Their manipulative approach to politics and public life draws them together. Kline sees nothing wrong with what Johnston did because Phill has done the same thing.