John Weekes

John Weekes is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Sperm donor flies into firestorm

Bill Johnson offered himself as a donor. Photo / Supplied
Bill Johnson offered himself as a donor. Photo / Supplied

The conservative politician who led a secret life as a sperm donor for lesbian couples has been embroiled in further scandal, called to testify in the biggest US corruption court case in years.

Bill Johnson, who ran for governor of Alabama, spent most of last year in Christchurch helping run the earthquake recovery - all the while using the online persona "chchbill" to meet nine women who wanted help to get pregnant.

After the Herald on Sunday revealed he had got three women pregnant and made donations to three more, he flew home to his wife and family in America.

But he flew into a firestorm on two fronts: a media uproar about his sperm donations, and a federal subpoena to testify about alleged payments to the Alabama Republican administration in which he had been a senior official.

The saga sprawling across three Southern states now involves casino kingpins and a Native American tribe and even claims George W.

Bush's former right-hand man Karl Rove orchestrated a smear campaign against Johnson, who has been ordered to testify as a whistleblower against his old boss, former Alabama Governor Bob Riley.

It is not known if Johnson will return to New Zealand to continue working for Ceres Environmental.

Montgomery Advertiser business and government editor Rick Harmon said parts of the corruption case involved claims Mississippi Indian tribes funnelled funds to anti-gambling forces in Alabama.

Johnson was of interest because he lambasted Riley during a 2010 campaign for Governor of Alabama. "When he ran for governor, he made statements saying that while he had been attached to the Riley administration, he had heard comments about contributions coming ... from Indian tribes," Harmon said.

Another source said Johnson's testimony would not be taken seriously because of fallout from the sperm donation story.

"Opposing counsel will destroy Johnson on the stand, thanks to your exposé. It will be easy to paint him as a joke - especially after Jay Leno painted him as a joke during his December 13 Tonight Show monologue."

One American political blogger alleged senior Republicans, possibly including Rove, tipped off the Herald on Sunday to Johnson's actions in Christchurch.

- Herald on Sunday

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