LISBON - U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson and his challenger, Charlie Wilson, both issued press releases last week as the 6th District Congressional race between them heats up about six weeks from election day.
Johnson's staff accused Wilson of making false statements about Johnson during the campaign. According to their release, Wilson put out a television advertisement claiming Johnson twice voted to kill Medicare.
According to Johnson's campaign manager Rachel Jacobs, the Ohio Elections Commission has found probable cause that Wilson lied about Johnson. Next Wilson was served with a subpoena and will have to go before a full panel of the Ohio Elections Commission to determine if he made a false statement, Jacobs said.
Johnson reportedly planned to be involved in two debates with Wilson, one in Marietta and one in Steubenville, but is not currently considering involvement in any others.
"Wilson has continued to lie throughout the campaign and now Ohio's top elections watchdog panel has called him on it," Jacobs said in a release. "Until and unless Wilson apologizes for his lie and agrees to not repeat it in any kind or variation, the Johnson campaign will agree to no more debates.
JR Starrett, campaign manager for Wilson, denied as of Friday afternoon that Wilson had received any subpoena and claims Johnson is backing out of debates for other reasons.
Wilson reportedly has agreed to additional debates at the Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce in New Philadelphia and at the Boardman School Television Network in Youngstown, both of which have contacted him to say Johnson does not plan to come. Additionally, Wilson has agreed to debates at the American Association of University Women in Zanesville and the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce in Ironton.
"We stand behind our statement that Congressman Johnson's attack on Medicare, that would force seniors to pay an additional $6,400 a year in out of pocket expenses, is in fact killing the Medicare system that we know," said Starrett in a press release. "The changes applied by a Ryan Johnson budget would change Medicare to a voucher system that would create a predetermined stipend for a full year's worth of medical service. Congressman Johnson can call it by any name, but this is not the Medicare our seniors currently know."
Starrett said Johnson's real reason for not wanting to debate Wilson in a public forum is so he will not have to answer questions by the public about his support of the Paul Ryan budget and potential the loss of Medicare.