Conservative columnist Drew Johnson is joining the Times Free Press as the opinion editor for the Free Press editorial page.
Johnson most recently served as a senior fellow for the Taxpayer Protection Alliance and weekly columnist for Newsmax. He previously founded and headed the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a conservative think tank and watchdog group in Nashville.
Johnson succeeds Lee Anderson, who retired as Free Press editorial page editor in April after 70 years with the newspaper.
"I want to be a watchdog on government waste and a voice for holding our public officials accountable," Johnson said.
Johnson gained national attention in 2007 when the watchdog group he started uncovered how former Vice President Al Gore was using 20 times more energy than the typical American at his Nashville home while he was touring the country promoting his Oscar-winning film against global warming, An Inconvenient Truth.
Since he left the Tennessee Center for Policy Research he helped start, the conservative think tank has been renamed the Beacon Group.
Johnson has been a guest, source or contributor to many national publications and news shows, including The Wall Street Journal, National Review, CNN, Fox News, NPR and the BBC.
The Times Free Press continues to maintain two differing editorial pages each day. Johnson will oversee the content of the Free Press opinion page and write editorials and a weekly column.
"Having two editorial pages, the liberal Times page and conservative Free Press page, serves the community well and represents a variety of viewpoints," said Alison Gerber, the newspaper's managing editor. "We think Drew will add depth and energy to the opinion section."
A native of Johnson City, Tenn., Johnson earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Belmont University in Nashville and a master's degree in public policy from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. He previously worked as a research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. and a policy analyst for the National Taxpayers Union.
He will join the Times Free Press staff in late June.