Clay Johnson (technologist)

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Clay Johnson
Johnson, 2009
EducationUniversity of Rhode Island Pace Academy
Political partyDemocratic

Clay Johnson is a former Democratic technologist who played a role in prominent national campaigns.


In 2004, Johnson was the lead programmer for Howard Dean’s unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for president.[1]

After the Dean campaign ended, Johnson joined three other Dean for America staff members (Ben Self, Jascha Franklin-Hodge, and Joe Rospars), to found Blue State Digital, a company that provides technology services and online strategy for Democratic campaigns, including the 2008 Barack Obama Presidential Campaign.[2] In 2006, Blue State Digital was one of Fast Company’s Fast 50.[3] In 2007, Johnson was "asked to leave" the company due to issues with other members of the partnership.[4]

From 2008 until 2010, he worked for the Sunlight Foundation as director of Sunlight Labs,[5] an open source community that collected and organized public data.[6] In August 2012, Johnson became a Presidential Innovation Fellow and worked on a project called RFP-EZ,[7] a digital utility to improve the success rate of small IT firms in acquiring government contracts.[8] In 2014, Johnson was named a senior fellow of the Center for American Progress.[9]

Johnson co-founded the Department of Better Technology (DOBT), a for-profit company that provides technology services to government agencies.[10] DOBT was acquired by CityBase in 2017.[11]

Over several election cycles, Johnson contributed to Democratic political candidates including Brian Forde and Doug Jones in 2017, Michelle Nunn in 2014, as well as Zephyr Teachout in 2016.[12] Teachout was involved in informing Dean campaign leadership of Johnson's sexual misconduct during the 2004 presidential campaign.[5]

Sexual misconduct accusations[edit]

Johnson has been accused of sexual misconduct and mistreatment by multiple women during his tenure on the Howard Dean campaign and employment at the Sunlight Foundation.[5] In 2018, HuffPost reported the stories of several women who alleged Johnson engaged in sexual misconduct, including attempted rape, sexual assault and verbal abuse in the workplace. Johnson stated to HuffPost in interviews that his overall behavior during that period of his life "filled him with shame, hurt and regret", attributing some behavior to substance abuse. He disputed many details of the accusations made against him.[13]

Other professional accomplishments[edit]

Prior to his work in political campaigns, Johnson worked at Ask Jeeves, now, as a technologist helping with web syndication. Along with John Petropoulos, Johnson invented the use of mouseover preview ability in search results for which they were granted a patent in 2006.[14]

In January 2012, Johnson published The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption.[15][16]


In 2009, he was the Google-O’Reilly Open Source Community Builder of the Year,[17] and in 2010, one of Federal Computer Week's Fed 100.[18]

Further reading[edit]

Clay Johnson (2012), The Information Diet: a Case for Conscious Consumption, Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media, ISBN 9781449304683, OCLC 754720170, OL 25228802M, 1449304680


  1. ^ "Howard Dean-Campaign Organization".
  2. ^ "The Open Source Force Behind the Obama Campaign". Linux Journal. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
  3. ^ Prospero, Michael A. (20 December 2006). "36_Clay Johnson Ben Self Jascha Franklin-Hodge and Joe Rospars". Fast Company. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  4. ^ Redden, Molly (2018-05-04). "He Was Accused Of Attempted Rape. He Became A Progressive Star Anyway". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  5. ^ a b c Redden, Molly (4 May 2018). "He Was Accused Of Attempted Rape. He Became A Progressive Star Anyway" – via Huff Post.
  6. ^ Gilbertson, Scott (March 29, 2010). "Sunlight Labs Offering $5K for Best Government Data Mashups". Wired. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  7. ^ Weigelt, Matthew (2013-01-31). "Can RFP-EZ really change procurement?". FCW. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  8. ^ "Presidential Innovation Fellows: RFP-EZ". The White House. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013.
  9. ^ Davenport, Reid (15 April 2014). "Johnson joins CAP as a senior fellow". FCW. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  10. ^ Mulligan, Miranda (7 July 2013). "The Department of Better Technology wants to get us one step closer to "Government as a platform"". Knight Lab. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  11. ^ "CityBase Acquires Department of Better Technology". Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  12. ^ "Clay Johnson political donations". OpenSecrets. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  13. ^ Redden, Molly (May 4, 2018). "He Was Accused Of Attempted Rape. He Became A Progressive Star Anyway". HuffPost. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  14. ^ "Patent US7047502 - Methods and apparatus for mouse-over preview of contextually relevant ... - Google Patents".
  15. ^ "A Healthy Information Diet: The Case for Conscious Consumption". The Atlantic. January 23, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  16. ^ "'The Information Diet': Should Americans Exercise More 'Conscious Consumption'?". PBS Newshour. May 18, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  17. ^ "Google-O'Reilly Open Source Awards - Hall of Fame". Google Developers. 28 January 2013.
  18. ^ "DorobekINSIDER: The 2010 Fed 100 Awards Gala: Eagle winners, and I blush". 2010-03-29. Retrieved 2018-05-07.

External links[edit]

Media related to Clay Johnson (technologist) at Wikimedia Commons