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Political Points: Former Louisiana Senator to Speak at Juniata

(Posted October 6, 2008)

J. Bennett Johnston, former Democratic Senator from Louisiana

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- In the middle of a hard-fought election cycle featuring two diametrically opposed candidates, who better to explain it all than a former Senator? J. Bennett Johnston, former Democratic lawmaker from Louisiana from 1972 to 1997, will speak at Juniata College at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 16 in Alumni Hall in Brumbaugh Academic Center on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Johnston, now president of Johnston & Associates, a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm, is a long-acknowledged expert on energy policy. He was instrumental in framing and passing the electricity restructuring legislation of the Energy Policy Act of 1992. He also played a large role in the deregulation of natural gas and was the principal mover in passing the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act, which opened more deep-water gas and oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Johnston, a native of Shreveport, was elected to the Senate in 1972 after serving eight years in the Louisiana Legislature, first as a representative from 1964 to 1968, and later as a state senator from 1968 to 1972. In 1971, he ran for governor of Louisiana and narrowly lost to Edwin Edwards in the Democratic primary.

Johnston was re-elected to the Senate three times, facing his toughest race in 1990, when David Duke, the Republican candidate and a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, ran against him. Johnston won that challenge and retired from the Senate in 1997. He was succeeded by current Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu, a Democrat.

Johnston was a conservative politician within the Democratic ranks. He voted to authorize the use of military force in Iraq in 1991 for the Gulf War and voted against the Budget Act of 1993, which was strongly supported by President Bill Clinton and many Democrats.

He attended Washington and Lee University and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He earned a law degree in 1956 from the Louisiana State University Law School and served in the Judge Advocate General Corps in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1959.

His Senate career was exceptional in that he was considered a "legislator's legislator." He served on the Senate Budget Committee and was a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. He was chairman and ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

In addition, he served on the Appropriations subcommittees of HUD (Housing and Urban Development) as well as the Departments of Defense, Agriculture and Interior.

In 1997, Johnston founded the lobbying firm that bears his name. The company provides lobbying expertise, position papers, monitoring of legislative efforts, public affairs campaigns and government relations counseling. The company is based in Washington, D.C.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.