S.K. Johnson Accuses S.K. Kussman of Malfeasance for “Secret Deal” with the GPA
Updated: Sep 24, 2021
In an email widely circulated among Knights Templar in explanation of his actions, S.K. Michael B. Johnson, Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, now accuses S.K. David Kussman of “malfeasance in office” and “disloyalty.”
S.K. Johnson specifically states in this email that “[t]he reason Sir Knight Kussman was removed was Disloyalty and Malfeasance of office.” See S.K. Johnson’s email below.
Malfeasance is a legal term, with legal consequences, which means “[a] wrongful, unlawful, or dishonest act” or “[t]he wrongful or unjust doing of some act which the doer has no right to perform.”[i]
S.K. Johnson goes on to state that S.K. Kussman “negotiated a concordant [sic] with the Great Priory of America.” This “concordant,” S.K. Johnson would have you believe, would somehow “give them [the GPA] the right to the blue degrees.”
There are so many problems with this narrative that it is hard to know where to start. Let’s take the issues one by one.
1. Malfeasance Requires Deliberate, Wrongful Act
Since S.K. Kussman was acting at the orders of the then-Grand Master, S.K. Jeffrey N. Nelson, in negotiating terms of peace with the GPA after a protracted battle with a faction of the Grand Encampment who had brought a clandestine version of the CBCS into the U.S., how could this constitute a wrongful act or a breach of his duty to the Grand Encampment? Clearly, S.K. Kussman was not only authorized to serve on this committee, he was in actual fact directed to. The committee's deliberations were concluded at the 68th Triennial upon passage of Resolution 2021-13. Thus at no time was S.K. Kussman contravening the orders of the Grand Master. In fact, he was following them.
2. David Kussman Was not a Committee of One
If S.K. Johnson is to be believed, and S.K. Kussman was acting “disloyal” and in such a manner to deliberately harm the Grand Encampment by negotiating with the GPA without authority to do so, to thereby commit malfeasance, then wouldn’t the other committee members also be culpable?
And if so, then why weren’t the other elected officers (S.K. Jeff Bolstad and S.K. Jack Harper) who were on the committee and participating in the same negotiations also removed from office?
Is it more probable that S.K. Kussman was removed in retribution, to make a point – not for “malfeasance” or any dereliction of duty but for entirely different purposes for which S.K. Kussman is not, in fact, at fault? Consider that, at least according to 77% of the voting delegates at the 68th Triennial Conclave, S.K. Kussman was acting in the interests of a super-majority of the Grand Encampment.
3. The Concordat Wasn’t Even Executed
S.K. Johnson somehow believes that an unexecuted, draft document has some kind of enforceable weight or evidences malfeasance.
But a draft document that was presented during negotiations and was never even signed cannot be evidence of anything other than an incomplete negotiation.
An unsigned document is not relevant to anything at all. It's simply something that was not in fact agreed to.
4. S.K. Mike’s Partially Quoted Sentence is Not a Part of the Actual Terms Anyway
The particular clause of the Concordat that S.K. Johnson cites partially (Johnson omits the final part of the sentence which, interestingly enough, stipulates that some degrees in charge of the GPA are held in abeyance, (i.e. not conferred)) are part of the “whereas” clauses (background) and have no bearing on the actual terms of the concordat, were it signed (which, of course, it wasn't).
You can read a copy of the Concordat below.
(Note that the word “concordat” derives from the Latin “con cordes” – with [one] heart. The word “concord” is derived from the same root, “a state of mutual friendship, amiability.”[ii]
Thus, a concordat is like a treaty – it is not some contract to enable the GPA to somehow start conferring the Craft degrees contrary to the Grand Lodges wherein it shares its jurisdiction.)
5. The Grand Encampment Has No Jurisdiction Over the First Three Degrees Anyway
Even if what S.K. Johnson is alleging were true, what power could the Grand Encampment possibly have to endorse an appendant body conferring degrees entirely outside its purview?
The statement that the Grand Encampment could even pretend such is ludicrous.
If the GPA were somehow to start conferring the Craft degrees, it would lose recognition by the Grand Lodges, whose jurisdiction over those degrees is entirely accepted.
In fact, the GPA is recognized as a regular appendant body by Grand Lodges, in the U.S. and worldwide. The assertion being made by S.K. Johnson is twaddle.
6. The GPA’s Membership Includes a Majority Portion of Past Grand Masters
In his email, S.K. Johnson states that “I am a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Wyoming and I am sure as hell not going to give them [the GPA] the right to the blue degrees and I am sure as hell not going to give up the sovereignty of the Grand Encampment to the Great Priory of America.”
And yet the membership of GPA comprises a majority of Past Grand Masters.
Neither would they infringe upon the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodges any more than the Scottish Rite would (the Scottish Rite also has three Craft degrees as part of its body of work which it holds in abeyance, with the exception of one masonic district in Louisiana – the Grand Lodge of Louisiana recognizes the conferral of the so-called “red degrees” in the alternative in a few parishes in recognition of the history of the Scottish Rite in that jurisdiction).
Note that the GPA has existed in amity with the Grand Lodges for almost 90 years. Why would this “concordat” (really, a peace treaty) suddenly change that? How would S.K. Kussman’s agreement to the Concordat (which would be signed by Jeffrey Nelson, not Kussman) legitimize or incentivize such a course of action anyway?
7. Removal without Cause Cited and Lack of Hearing is Manifestly Unjust, Unknightly, and Unmasonic
S.K. Johnson was heard to say at the South Central Department Conference that one of the reasons he has denied hosting the Special Conclave online (while citing exorbitant costs for the in-person meeting) is because he wants to look his accusers in the eye.
Yet he denied this right to S.K. Kussman by removing him for office without cause (although he now alleges malfeasance in a defamatory and problematic manner) and without conducting any sort of hearing, as Templar Law requires.
In excusing his unilateral action, and removing S.K. Kussman without any kind of hearing at all, S.K. Johnson cites Section 23 of the Constitution, the preamble of which states that the Grand Master has broad powers to do “all such acts as he may deem necessary for the interests of Templary.” But S.K. Johnson omits (as seems his custom) the rest of the sentence, which stipulates only where such acts “are not contrary to the Constitution, Statutes, Rules, Regulations and Rituals of the Grand Encampment.”
It is hard to see how a reasonable person could think that acting against 77% of the voting delegates somehow is “in the interests of Templary,” nor how his actions which denied S.K. Kussman a hearing of any kind are not contrary to Crofts Decision No. 4 (1970), which is the only codification of Templar Law controlling removal of an elected officer.
7. S.K. Mike Johnson Is a Member of a Clandestine Version of the CBCS
S.K. Johnson has a conflict of interest in ruling on this issue since he is (or was) a member of a clandestine version of the CBCS brought over unlawfully to the U.S. in 2011 by S.K. Billy Koon.
S.K. Johnson is acting for a small faction of motivated Knights Templar in the Grand Encampment leadership who apparently want to supplant the lawful CBCS with a clandestine version under their own control.
8. S.K. Mike Johnson’s Statements Appear Defamatory per se and Should be Retracted Immediately to Avoid Further Liability to the Grand Encampment and Knights Templar Eye Foundation
S.K. Johnson’s statements impugning a fellow Sir Knight’s integrity allege dishonesty and malfeasance and go directly to S.K. Kussman's ability to perform his office (including S.K. Kussman's board seat on the Knight Templar Eye Foundation).
These are legal terms with actionable weight.
Someone should explain to S.K. Johnson as soon as possible that his conduct may be exposing the Grand Encampment and the Knight Templar Eye Foundation to civil actions for defamation per se.
[i] See Black’s Law Dictionary 10th ed. for iPone and The Law Dictionary, https://thelawdictionary.org/malfeasance/(accessed Sept. 20, 2021) [ii] See https://www.etymonline.com/word/concord?ref=etymonline_crossreference#etymonline_v_17320 (accessed Sept. 20, 2021)