Clay Johnson (technologist)

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Clay Johnson
Clay Johnson, 2009
Born 1977
Residence Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia

University of Rhode Island

Pace Academy
Political party Democratic

Clay Johnson has worked on technology services for progressive political campaigns and government agencies. He 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.[1]

Politics and government[edit]

In 2004, Johnson was the lead programmer for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign.[2]

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.[3] In 2006, Blue State Digital was one of Fast Company’s Fast 50.[4] In 2007, Johnson was "asked to leave" the company due to issues with other members of the partnership.[5]

From 2008-2010 he worked for the Sunlight Foundation as director of Sunlight Labs,[1] which was 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] RFP-EZ seeked to make it easier for small IT services firms to bid on and win government contracts for IT services (like coding and web development).[8]

In 2013, Johnson co-founded the Department of Better Technology (DOBT), a for-profit company that provides technology services to government agencies.[9] DOBT was acquired by CityBase in 2017.[10]

In 2014, Johnson was named a senior fellow of the Center for American Progress.[11]

Over several election cycles, Johnson has 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.[1]

Sexual misconduct[edit]

In 2018, HuffPost reported accusations of Johnson engaging in sexual misconduct, including attempted rape, sexual assault and verbal abuse in the workplace. These allegations were made by multiple women over a period of a decade, but only one of the accusers of assault was named in the article. Technologist and former Howard Dean campaign worker Sarah Schacht publicly stated that Johnson tried to rape her when he returned to his rented apartment (where she was staying) drunk. Though the incident was reported to the campaign, the article made no mention of legal action taken against Johnson. A second woman was reported in the same article as making confidential accusations of attempted rape, reporting the incident to the campaign. 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 career involvements[edit]

Prior to his work with politicians, 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. The patent was filed in 2001, and issued in 2006.[14]

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

Johnson served as the chair of the Chattahoochee Hills Charter School[17] from 2015 to 2017.

Johnson also serves on the Board of Directors of the Children & Nature Network.[18]


In 2009, he was the Google-O’Reilly Open Source Community Builder of the Year,[19] and in 2010, one of Federal Computer Week's Fed 100.[20]

Further reading[edit]

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


  1. ^ a b c Redden, Molly (4 May 2018). "He Was Accused Of Attempted Rape. He Became A Progressive Star Anyway" – via Huff Post. 
  2. ^ "Howard Dean-Campaign Organization". 
  3. ^ "The Open Source Force Behind the Obama Campaign". Linux Journal. Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  4. ^ Prospero, Michael A. (20 December 2006). "36_Clay Johnson Ben Self Jascha Franklin-Hodge and Joe Rospars". Fast Company. Retrieved 6 May 2018. 
  5. ^ Redden, Molly (2018-05-04). "He Was Accused Of Attempted Rape. He Became A Progressive Star Anyway". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-05-06. 
  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. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ "CityBase Acquires Department of Better Technology". Retrieved 2018-03-21. 
  11. ^ Davenport, Reid (15 April 2014). "Johnson joins CAP as a senior fellow". FCW. Retrieved 2018-05-06. 
  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. ^ "The School of Nature: Greening Our Schools May Be the Real Cutting Edge of Education | GREEN SCHOOLS NATIONAL NETWORK". GREEN SCHOOLS NATIONAL NETWORK. 2016-05-09. Retrieved 2018-03-21. 
  18. ^ "Board of Directors". Children & Nature Network. Retrieved 2018-03-21. 
  19. ^ "Google-O'Reilly Open Source Awards - Hall of Fame". Google Developers. 28 January 2013. 
  20. ^ "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