Mike Johnson was the dean of an effort to create a new version of Liberty or Oral Roberts Law that couldn’t get off the ground, for better or worse saving some young aspiring Federalist Society drones from getting looted:
In February 2012, Mike Johnson sent an aide on an urgent mission at the college where he had been working to open a law school: Locate a study that he believed would provethe project was financially possible.
For more than a year, Johnson — the dean of the not-yet-opened law school — had been telling donors and the public that the institution, which would focus on training Christian attorneys in northwest Louisiana, was not only achievable, but inevitable.
“From a pure feasibility standpoint,” Johnson, then 38, told the local Town Talk newspaper in 2010 after becoming dean, “I’m not sure how this can fail because … it looks like the perfect storm for our law school.”
But he had still not actually seen a feasibility study commissioned by the parent school, Louisiana College,a private Southern Baptist college in Pineville, La., now known as Louisiana Christian University.
The aide soon returned with disturbing news: The study had been buried in a filing cabinet. And it was all but useless.
Six months later, in August 2012, Johnson resigned as dean of the new school, which never opened even though the college spent $5 million to buy and renovate a Shreveport headquarters, among other expenses detailed in local media accounts.
The feasibility study was a “hodgepodge collection of papers,” with “nothing in existence” related to the need for the new law school, market studies, or “funding sources and prospects,” Johnson wrote the following year, describing the episode in what he called a “confidential memorandum” responding to questions from the Louisiana College Board of Trustees
Johnson’s April 2013 memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post, reveals how he navigated a previous executive management experience as he takes over a much larger organization, the U.S. House of Representatives, and becomes second in line to the presidency. The memo suggests that Johnson encouraged and agreed to lead what he later described as a sparsely researched effort that collapsed soon after he left.
“Spend and get paid first, find some evidence of viability later” captures the law school ethos of the time, although it’s surprising that they would then let the lack of evidence stop them.