Such statements are so eye-rollingly obvious as to be cliche. We’re accustomed to the ‘politics as usual’ mindset and the ridiculous propaganda that’s thrown our way. We’re cynical and jaded. Despite this, politicians manage to manipulate and use us anyway. Taken too far, their lies can tip the scales making reality unrecognizable from fiction.
District Attorney Jackie Johnson has gone too far. Jackie Johnson and her campaign have dishonored a grieving family. They have weasel-worded, deceived, and treated her constituents as uninformed, uneducated fools. They assume that party lines are all that matter to you, and you’ll vote for Jackie Johnson despite the truth.
We shall see.
1. “Keith Higgins can no longer hide his liberal agenda.” —Paid for by The Committee to Elect Jackie Johnson (Deception)
Recently, District Attorney Jackie Johnson and her political cronies have attempted to deceive her constituents by smearing her political opponent, Independent candidate for D.A. Keith Higgins.
Keith Higgins chose to run as an Independent when it would have been far easier and cheaper to run as a Republican or Democrat. In fact, by running as an Independent, Keith took the chance that his name would never appear on the ballot. In 1943, Georgia passed one of the strictest ballot access laws in the nation, currently requiring Independent candidates to obtain signed petitions from 5% of registered voters in their area. This amounted to approximately 5,000 signatures for Keith Higgins, which he began collecting early in the year before the Ahmaud Arbery video came out and wrapped District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s office in scandal. Had Keith not collected the required signatures, his name wouldn’t be on the November ballot. If Keith Higgins had a “liberal agenda” as D.A. Jackie Johnson’s campaign claims, why would he choose this route with all its unnecessary hurdles when he could have run as a Democrat?
“Our judicial system demands impartial oversight and, just like our judges, I want to make sure partisan politics have no possible influence in my administration of justice. I believe everyone should have a voice in deciding who their district attorney is going to be.” -Keith Higgins, on why he decided to run as an Independent
2. “Liberal trial lawyer leads out-of-town protesters at Appling County Sheriff’s Office”—Paid for by The Committee to Elect Jackie Johnson (Deception)
The “Justice for #KelseyRayner” protest that occurred on September 19, 2020, was a peaceful gathering and march that began at the Appling County Courthouse and concluded at the Sheriff’s Department. The NAACP hosted the event to bring awareness to the negligent death of Kelsey Rayner and the subsequent lack of justice. It’s ironic that in the same flyer that Jackie’s campaign attacks Keith for participating in a protest about justice, they also imply that Keith Higgins is against law and order.
How is that possible?
How can Keith be against law and order, while at the same time advocating for unbiased justice?
Campaigns like Jackie Johnson’s depend on voters to be uneducated and easy to manipulate. How does she do this? It’s campaigning 101: Define your opponent. Tell the public what you want them to believe, regardless of the truth. In this respect, District Attorney Jackie Johnson is excellent. Deception. Mis-direction. She’s got the book, memorized the plays, and she’s counting on you to fall for her tricks.
Keith Higgins didn’t lead this protest. Keith attended at the request of Kelsey Rayner’s distraught mother and spoke for less than five minutes of the three-hour protest.
Moreover, what D.A. Jackie Johnson desperately doesn’t want the public to know, is that this protest should go down in the history books. On September 19, 2020, in a beautiful show of bipartisanship, Republican State Rep. Jeff Jones, Independent candidate for District Attorney Keith Higgins, and Democrat candidate for Sheriff of Appling County Clint Bass, showed their support at the “Justice For #KelseyRayner” protest.
These three, principled men set aside party lines to do what they believed to be right.
A Republican, an Independent, and a Democrat supporting one another? In a time when politicians blindly stick with those in their political party rather than stand for what is right, this is exceedingly rare and a clear model for the rest of the country.
District Attorney Jackie Johnson should stand up and take note because this is how positive change is made.
3. Jackie Johnson is a “Lifelong Republican” —Paid for by The Committee to Elect Jackie Johnson (Lie)
“After Mailer Slamming Opponent as ‘Liberal,’ Records Show Johnson Voted Dem 25% of the Time,” an article on AllOnGeorgia.com by Jessica Szilagyi, sufficiently catalogs this blatant lie by Jackie Johnson’s campaign and can be read here.
4. “The death of Kelsey Rayner in the Appling County jail was investigated by the GBI at the request of the sheriff…The GBI investigation determined that no one acted in a criminal manner. My office came to the same conclusion after reviewing the entire investigation.”—Jackie Johnson, published in The Baxley News-Banner, in response to accusations against her (Deception)
When a death occurs in jail, both the GBI and the Department of Justice must be informed. By reporting Kelsey Rayner’s death, the sheriff was only doing what he was REQUIRED to do.
The GBI’s autopsy stated that Mr. Rayner’s death was natural and that the cause was sepsis. Basically, Mr. Rayner died from a massive infection that was left untreated. Had he received medical treatment, he could still be alive today. Natural causes do not mean that no crime was committed.
Per Georgia Code 16-2-1, criminal negligence is “an act or a failure to act which demonstrates a will, wanton, or reckless disregard for the safety of others who might reasonably be expected to be injured thereby.”
Kelsey Rayner spent hours on the floor of his jail cell, in obvious pain. No medical attention was rendered. This can be seen in the hours of video captured before his death. Despite these facts, on December 13, 2017, while the GBI investigation was still open, Jackie sent a letter to the GBI stating, “I do not believe there is sufficient evidence to support the elements of a crime…the GBI Lab determined that Rayner died of natural causes. As such, we are unable to proceed with criminal charges at this time and are closing the file.” Two weeks later, on December 21, 2017, the GBI closed their investigation based on District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s claim that no crime existed.
D.A. Jackie Johnson claimed that the GBI determined that no one acted in a criminal manner. That is not true. All the GBI concluded was that Kelsey Rayner died from natural causes; their report never mentioned an opinion on criminal negligence or charges.
Why didn’t Jackie believe there were criminal charges to be filed?
As the district attorney, Jackie Johnson should be well aware of the statute for criminal negligence and the sheriff’s duty to the people under his care. She should have been looking for negligence when she reviewed the case. However, like Greg McMichael in the Ahmaud Arbery case, Sheriff Mark Melton was Jackie’s former investigator. Jackie Johnson claims she immediately recused herself from the Ahmaud Arbery case because of that conflict of interest. So why didn’t Jackie recuse herself when her former employee, Sheriff Mark Melton’s office was under investigation?
Our article on Kelsey Rayner, with all the supporting documentation, can be read here.
5. “With respect to the death of Ahmaud Arbery, my office recused itself and did not participate in the investigation or make any decisions concerning criminal charges.”—Jackie Johnson, published in The Baxley News-Banner, in response to accusations against her (Deception)
For those who don’t know, lawyers “recuse” themselves when they cannot perform their duty because of a conflict of interest. Once recused, they should not influence a case whatsoever. It stands to reason that if a lawyer recuses themself, they should have zero say in who would take over the case to prevent them from choosing a friend to handle it.
Ahmaud Arbery was killed on February 23, 2020. Jackie’s former employee, Greg McMichael, was involved. Yet, it wasn’t until four days after the shooting that Jackie Johnson sent an email to recuse herself. Meanwhile, Jackie chose the district attorney from Waycross, George Barnhill, whose son works for Jackie to take over the case. This should have been a clear conflict of interest. The moment Jackie learned of her former employee’s involvement in the case, she shouldn’t have had anything to do with it. Period.
Two county commissioners from Glynn County have claimed that Jackie Johnson’s office told the police not to make an arrest that day, even though her office should never have been involved.
More recently, an article by AllOnGeorgia.com claims that District Attorney Jackie Johnson continued to meet with the Arbery family even after her recusal. While this might sound like a nice gesture by the district attorney, it’s a big ‘no-no’ as it allowed her continued influence with the family and subsequently over the case. That article can be read here.
6. “The death of Caroline Small, which occurred before I was District attorney, was presented to a Glynn County Grand Jury which determined no criminal charges were warranted.”—Jackie Johnson, published in The Baxley News-Banner, in response to accusations against her (Deception)
When Caroline Small was killed on June 18, 2010, Jackie Johnson was an assistant district attorney. According to The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, just days after Caroline Small was shot, Jackie announced her intentions for the open district attorney position. Chief Doering, the chief of police who’s office was being investigated in the Caroline Small shooting, sent a letter of recommendation to the governor’s office on Jackie Johnson’s behalf. Two months after Caroline Small’s death, Jackie Johnson was sworn-in as the district attorney.
Approximately a year later, District Attorney Jackie Johnson finally took the case to the grand jury.
According to a news report by WSB-TV2, four former prosecutors spoke out accusing Jackie of intentionally mishandling this police shooting. The report asserted that:
The GBI agent who investigated called it “the worst police shooting he’d ever seen.”
Jackie Johnson kept evidence from other prosecutors and fired colleagues who wanted the case prosecuted.
Prosecutors believed that Jackie violated prosecutorial ethics and should be impeached.
According to former prosecutor David Peterson, the grand jury was “undercut, misused, abused, and they were lied to.” This news clip can be viewed on YouTube on the WSB-TV channel of by viewing the video below.
Additionally, there was a well-written article about it by Brad Schrade in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and can be read here.
Or you can read our article here.
7. “…a Glynn County Police Officer murdered his wife Katie Kettles and John Hall, Jr. and then killed himself. My office could not file murder charges on a person who had already killed himself.”—Jackie Johnson, published in The Baxley News-Banner, in response to accusations against her (Deception)
This was another attempt to distance her office from this case; however, before Cory Sasser committed a double-murder and suicide, District Attorney Jackie Johnson had another opportunity to promptly recuse herself that went unheeded.
Sasser, a police officer with GCPD who had friends within the district attorney’s office, allegedly threatened his estranged wife and had an hours-long standoff with police. It was bad enough that Georgia State Patrol, sheriff’s deputies, and SWAT were called in. Yet, Sasser never spent a night in jail. Court transcripts show that Jackie Johnson’s office had already arranged bond conditions with his defense attorney the day of Sasser's bond hearing. These conditions were so lenient that the judge felt it necessary to add additional requirements even though Jackie’s office and the defense attorney had already agreed. Jackie Johnson did not recuse her office until the day his bond was in place, allowing Sasser to roam relatively unmonitored, and possibly setting up the conditions that allowed Sasser to kill his wife and John Hall a little over a month later.
Interesting tidbit: Cory Sasser was also one of the officers who shot and killed Caroline Small.
8. “Supports Law Enforcement” —Paid for by The Committee to Elect Jackie Johnson (Deception)
“The District Attorney’s Office That’s Prosecuting Cops for Noncriminal Offenses,” an article on AllOnGeorgia.com by Jessica Szilagyi, can be read here.
AllOnGeorgia’s article showed how Jackie Johnson abused her power as district attorney by unjustly prosecuting officers. It also posed an important question—“If Jackie Johnson is willing to manipulate the law to do as she pleases with police officers, what is her office doing to the general public?”
When District Attorney Jackie Johnson sought these officers’ indictment, the GBI agent wouldn't sign the document. In a highly unusual move, Jackie Johnson had an investigator from her own office sign the indictment instead. Only after the indictment was returned and filed, ensuring the case would go to trial, did Jackie Johnson recuse herself for conflicts of interest.
“She should have recused herself from day one, and she didn’t,” said Glynn County Commission Chairman Michael Browning. “This whole thing stunk from day one. It stunk because of a falling out she had with the chief of police.” quote from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “After Police Chief Indicted, Brunswick DA Recuses Herself From Case,” by Brad Schrade, can be read here.
Now that the case has been assigned to a different district attorney, most of the charges have been dismissed by the judge, while others are being challenged. This gives credence to the belief by many of those involved that District Attorney Jackie Johnson brought bogus charges against Glynn County Police officers because she disliked the chief of police.
It appears that District Attorney Jackie Johnson only supports police when it suits her political career.
You’d think Jackie would refrain from throwing stones and slinging mud considering the unresolved skeletons hiding in her closet. As it stands, District Attorney Jackie Johnson is currently under investigation by multiple government agencies, and, in an open letter to the Georgia State Bar, over 300 attorneys have called for her resignation. As one attorney put it, Jackie Johnson “has no moral compass, only a political one.”
With strikes like these working against her, District Attorney Jackie Johnson must really be feeling the heat to stoop to such lows.
But then again, it's what her career has been built on.