Public Official to Reporter: “Do you know that Jesus loves you?”

Former County Executive Joe Ortwerth

By Eric Seidel, CEO
The Media Trainers

Is your local public servant supposed to be doing God’s work? That question probably would receive conflicting—and contentious—responses.

The video below concerns a new juvenile justice center built in St. Charles County, Missouri. The county executive, Joe Ortwerth, had been at odds with county judges who wanted more security for the building before it was opened and populated. But, Ortwerth stood in the way. As a result, the multi-million dollar complex remained empty, yet had already started draining tax dollars.

Following a county commission meeting, a local TV reporter approached the county executive with questions about the dispute and related costs. Ortwerth first told him he’d only entertain questions submitted in writing. That’s his first mistake. (As a former reporter I can tell you that requests like that only turn up the heat in the exchange; demands like that are an affront. In effect, they’re attempts to strip us of our duties and responsibilities to gather, edit and report.)

But this example goes from the ridiculous to sublime stupidity. As the reporter persisted, the executive asked THREE TIMES him if he knows that Jesus loves him.

Public officials spend public money, and they need to be prepared to answer for their decisions. Hiding behind Jesus is not among their responsibilities. Even the most religious among us should be offended by this former official’s outrageous method of refusing to answer for how he was conducting public business.

Leave a Reply