“The Long Con”: Elmer Gantry was a fumbling neophyte compared to the late Dan Johnson.


Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, please come to New Albany, where the charlatans are as high as a clergyman’s eye. 

This one goes out to those of my friends living outside the United States, who may be observing the state of affairs in my homeland and wondering exactly what happened to the better angels of our nature.

To me, these angels seldom ever existed. The longest con of all involved convincing ourselves they actually did. These days, we’re simply reverting to the mean.

For the record, two days after the results of this investigation started being released, Rep. Dan Johnson killed himself. Rough justice, perhaps, but arguably better than no justice at all.

THE POPE’S LONG CON, by R.G. Dunlop and Jacob Ryan (Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting)

A Kentucky preacher-turned-politician’s web of lies

… The Pope, as everyone knows him, commands this side of the room, his voice tinged with the Louisiana drawl of his youth. His biceps are decorated in ink, his sideburns white, his golden pompadour thinning.

Long ago, Johnson fashioned an identity as a modern-day American patriot. Pro-gun, pro-God, pro-life. He talked in 2013 about making America great again. He lamented the lack of God in everyone’s lives. He wept over the country’s future.

But behind this persona — cultivated, built up and fine-tuned over decades — is a web of lies and deception. A mysterious fire. Attempted arson and false testimony. Alleged molestation in his church.

In Johnson’s wake lies a trail of police records and court files, shattered lives and a flagrant disregard for truth.

This seven-month investigation is based on more than 100 interviews and several thousand pages of public documents. It also included numerous attempts to interview Johnson, who refused all requests.

Over and over, there were warning signs for government officials, law enforcement, political leaders and others. Yet, virtually nothing was done. For years, Johnson broke laws. Now, he helps make them.

In his latest feat, Johnson catapulted himself into the Kentucky Capitol in 2016 as representative for the 49th House District.