ANC member does not make calls from D.C. very often

(The Washington Post)

If you missed it, do read my Friday piece on Lenwood Johnson, the advisory neighborhood commissioner who used his taxpayer-paid cellphone for hours and hours of personal calls, including nearly a week’s worth of calls to 18-and-over chat lines.

Besides the illicit use of government resources for personal purposes, there’s another angle to this: Johnson doesn’t appear to have spent a whole lot of time in the district he represents — or, at least, make a lot of phone calls from there.

Eleven months of phone records show that of outgoing calls totaling 17,363 minutes, only about 17 percent came from inside the District of Columbia. The vast majority — 69 percent — were placed in Gaithersburg, including nearly 9,000 minutes worth of calls to the aforementioned chat lines.

Johnson has been accused of not actually living in the area he represents, but he said Thursday those claims are “preposterous,” saying he considers his home on the 600 block of Irving Street NW to be his official residence.

His job as a manager of law-firm libraries takes him up to Montgomery County regularly, Johnson said, adding that he often spends nights at a friend’s house in that area rather than his D.C. home.

“I will add this,” he said. “I’m not very happy there [on Irving Street], so I don’t spend a whole lot of time there except for sleeping there and whatever. I do spend a lot of time in Gaithersburg.”

As an elected official, Johnson can spend his time wherever he likes as long as he does not register as a voter elsewhere. Johnson is not listed in Maryland voter registration records.

Another note: After finishing my story, I heard from Thomas Boisvert, the Columbia Heights ANC’s chairman, who said there have been “general discussions about using phones for official purposes” but no specific discussion of a particular commissioner’s use.

“My position is that we really just shouldn’t have them,” he said.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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Mike DeBonis · November 2, 2012