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Raven’s Twitter feed features a photo of a scantily clad woman, and many of the personal messages left on the Minnesota-based chat service are explicit.
“I don’t know if you could go to the person and say you need to pay back the government,” he said.
“I think we’re wasting a lot with that phone system,” he said.
Being an elected member of an Advisory Neighborhood Commission in the District comes with a multitude of responsibilities: weighing development plans, examining liquor licenses, fielding neighborhood complaints. Alibi” chat lines, in addition to making many other personal calls. Johnson, who has been a commissioner since 1993, said Thursday that he was not told there were any restrictions on the phone’s use when it was given to him about four years ago. Besides the 9,512 minutes Johnson spent on the 18-and-over chat lines, he spent 4,362 minutes on the line with a particular D. “It probably was political, but I just can’t recall what I could have talked to him for an hour about,” Johnson said, referring to a 60-minute phone call on Jan. “It’s not like a sex chat line or whatever,” he said. The records examined by The Washington Post included phone bills for 11 months between August 2011 and September 2012.
Not among them: frequenting adults-only chat lines. While it appears those calls did not add any significant expense to the commission’s 0-a-month phone bills, the use of a government resource for personal benefit violates city policy, said Gottlieb Simon, director of the D. “Often I get on the line just to keep me awake or alert while I’m driving home from Baltimore.” He spent six hours on one call, made at a.m. While Johnson regularly exceeds the 400 prime-time minutes he is allotted per month, his usage has not incurred significant additional cost to the ANC because its other four lines are used lightly or not at all.
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Yet one commissioner has used his government-paid cellphone to call such numbers at least 240 times since August 2011, according to phone records. Johnson, who represents a district in Columbia Heights, spent more than 158 hours — nearly a week — on the “D. Because the additional charges were nominal, the situation regarding possible sanctions is “nuanced,” Simon said. The person who answered that number last week acknowledged he knew Johnson but declined to identify himself. Johnson also used the ANC phone for about three hours for more than a dozen calls to Pete Ross, a D. businessman who ran unsuccessfully for shadow senator this year. Use of the phone for political purposes would also be an illicit use of government resources, under city laws. Johnson said he often calls the chat lines while driving home from a nightclub he co-owns in Baltimore.