Around Sactown Royalty, Kevin Johnson is generally considered a hero. He's on the Mount Rushmore of who saved the Kings. Because of this, it's viewed as a minor sacriledge to say anything negative about the man. He's the popular Mayor of Sacramento, he's the Mayor who helped Sacramento remain an NBA city, and he's gaining national recognition for his work with the NBA Players Association during the Donald Sterling situation. It's widely assumed that Johnson has aspirations above his current office, as most politicians do.
But with added publicity comes added scrutiny. Deadspin has published an extensive history of past allegations against Johnson. There are a great number of allegations, and they truly make you wonder. Are the allegations true? Johnson has never been charged, and certainly never convicted. But these controversial allegations continue to follow him.
Deadspin reveals no new information. Everything they list has been reported as early as 2009. None of that changes the fact that, if these things are true, they are despicable. I hope they aren't true, but I only know Johnson as the Mayor of Sacramento who helped save the Kings. I'll always be grateful to him for that. I know absolutely nothing about Johnson's past. But the most common reaction I've seen to Deadspin's piece is surprise. These allegations have followed Johnson, but still remain pretty quiet.
Perhaps that's because, as Deadspin eventually acknowledges in the next to last paragraph:
[T]he mayor's press secretary, Ben Sosenko, issued the following statement: "While appreciating that those who are in the news generate click-throughs, the Inspector General's report is really old news from 2009 that had no merit then as confirmed by the fact that the book on the matter was closed a long time ago by both local and federal officials, including the US Attorney who independently concluded that the report was misleading."
These past allegations did not prevent Johnson from becoming Mayor. They did not stop Johnson from receiving prestigious roles in the United States Conference of Mayors. But these issues will continue to be brought up more as Johnson draws more attention.
If nothing else, it's worth remembering that our heroes are people. Some people have a dark side. Some people have the bad luck to have their name dragged through the mud. I don't know which of these describes Kevin Johnson. But even the people we most appreciate aren't perfect.
Beyond that, this is little more than reminding a larger audience of past allegations. And once more, I am not brushing this off. There has never been sufficient evidence against Johnson for charges to be filed. He might have done some awful things to people and then paid to cover it up. Or he might have paid to prevent unjust damage to his reputation. That's a thing that happens more often than we'd like to imagine. I don't know the truth of it.
Taking this information and framing it as "KJ is an asshole" feels like a a click-bait hit job. But I'm more than willing to accept the concept that KJ might be an asshole.
[Editors note: These are sensitive topics and serious allegations, please think twice about what you're saying before commenting.]