New questions have been raised about House speaker Mike Johnson’s speech four years ago for the right-wing Council on National Policy.
The Louisiana Republican spoke to the conservative group on Oct. 4, 2019, at the New Orleans Ritz-Carlton, and there’s a 31-minute video to prove it.
However, Johnson never filed a travel report or list the event on his annual personal financial disclosure that year, reported The Daily Beast.
“That leaves a few options: he paid for the trip out of pocket, the trip somehow didn’t trigger the same reporting requirements that it did for his colleagues, or Johnson simply failed to disclose a gift from the conservative organization,” reported Roger Sollenberger. “Neither Johnson’s office nor CNP returned a request for comment about the trip.”
Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) filed a gift travel report when he spoke to the CNP at the Orlando Ritz-Carlton in February of 2019, showing is transportation was $884, a night at the hotel was $370, and the registration fee was $675.
Reps. Mark Green (R-TN) and Chip Roy (R-TX) filed similar gift travel reports for their own speeches to the CNP in 2019 and 2022, respectively.
“The most reasonable inference is that the very well-heeled CNP covered Johnson’s expenses when he addressed the group’s meeting in 2019, but the new speaker failed to report those gifts,” said Brendan Fischer, deputy executive director of Documented. “What [would make] it an ethics violation is if the payments aren’t reported.”
Although Johnson lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, his speech makes clear that he had traveled to New Orleans from Washington, D.C., and he most likely stayed there overnight, because Shreveport is a five-hour drive and there are no passenger trains or direct flights between the two cities, and Fischer doubts the lawmaker paid for his trip out of pocket.
“If a person is tight on cash, why on earth would they pay out of pocket to attend a conference financed by some of the wealthiest individuals in the country, when the conference sponsor is willing and able to pick up the tab?” Fischer said. “All he has to do is properly report the gift.”