SD GOP: "Stonewall from Johnson Inc. Continues"

SD GOP new press release:

Stonewall from Johnson Inc. Continues

Senator Johnson Refuses to Address His Staffer’s Campaigning While on Public Payroll

Sioux Falls – The South Dakota Republican Party today called on U.S. Senator Tim Johnson to end his stalling and stonewalling and address the controversy over his government-paid staffer, Matt Varilek, who has been campaigning for Congress and launching vicious personal attacks against Rep. Kristi Noem all while serving as a federal employee and collecting his taxpayer-funded paychecks at $90,000 per year.

According to news reports this morning, Senator Johnson refuses to address the controversy when asked about it directly (see “City, MTI seek Sen. Johnson’s help,” Mitchell Daily Republic, October 27, 2009). The appropriate authority for investigating potential violations of law prohibiting campaigning while serving as a federal employee is either the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee or South Dakota’s U.S. Attorney, who is Senator Johnson’s son. Senator Johnson engineered the appointment of his son to be U.S. Attorney in 2009 (see “Nominee gets help from senator dad,” Politico, October 8, 2009). It should also be noted that Senator Johnson is the former Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee.

“The conflicts of interest and incestuous nature of this whole arrangement boggle the mind,” said Tony Post, executive director of the South Dakota GOP. “Senator Johnson is refusing to comment on the problematic activities of his own staffer while his son, whose plum federal appointment he orchestrated, is in charge of enforcing some of the relevant laws involved. On top of that, Senator Johnson is the former Chairman of the Senate Ethics committee and should be well-versed in the details of what his staff are allowed to do and what they aren’t. It’s time for Senator Johnson to level with the people of South Dakota and address this ethical trainwreck. Senator Johnson needs to get Matt Varilek off the federal government payroll immediately or order him to stop campaigning,” said Post.

31 U.S.C. § 1301(a), states that monies appropriated by Congress may only be spent for the purposes for which they were appropriated. This provision bars the misapplication or misuse of federal funds by federal agency personnel. That is, funds appropriated by Congress for an agency or a federal office for official purposes, may not be diverted and used for partisan political campaigns.

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34 Replies to “SD GOP: "Stonewall from Johnson Inc. Continues"”

  1. Arrowhead

    At least show good SDWC etiquette and come up with a fake name on here so we don’t have to read “anonymous” all the time.

    I’m thinking your name could be “tool…”

  2. deadwood dissident

    Brendan Johnson should move to investigate the governor and his funneling federal funding to the Childrens Home Society.

    1. anooner

      Don’t know Dennis personally, and all I’ve ever heard is that he is a good stand up guy. But man, he really stepped in it on this one. This isn’t a little back-scratching, this a full body massage. Forget about the money aspect for a sec, ICWA has very clear placement preferences which appear to have been ignored in many cases. I’m sure the SD judiciary will follow this one with interest. The head of DSS should get canned on this one. She could probably catch on with Sanford or L&S.

          1. 73*

            Depends on who you speak with. If you ask Cory Hiedelberger he’d tell you it was.

            Most though would just laugh at the source. The only people who read his blog are Steve Sibson and Bill Fleming. And Sibson is a libertarian.

            I wish Sibby would come over to the SDWC where he is welcome. I miss his commentary.

            1. deadwood dissident

              Sibby believes the SDGOP is unscrupulous, unethical, dishonest, and corrupt. Why would he come to this blog?

            2. caheidelberger

              O.K., I dare you: show me one thing I’ve stated in the above linked article that is blatantly false or biased. I think I’ve been pretty light on the governor in my discussion of the NPR reports. I’m encouraging all not to make a political issue of the story and instead focusing on (a) finding out whether there really is a problem and (b) if there is a problem, fixing it. Now, what’s unreliable about that commentary?

            3. BF

              I notice Troy Jones posting a lot more on Cory’s blog and Mt. Blogmore lately than he does here. Perhaps that’s because there are real, intelligent conversations going on there, among real people with real names and their own ideas.

              1. smalls

                I think there are a lot of great conversations going on here at the DWC. And by more than 3 people.

                Cory’s blog is fine if you like really really really really really really really really really really really far left discussions.

  3. insomniac

    I am surprised the SD GOP is going off on this when Noem is taking heat on the Dust Bill.

    There is a lot of back and forth going on right now in SD politics.

  4. Love-is-the-Answer

    who will police the police? who will examine Brendan Johnson’s many failures to investigate and prosecute the sins of his father’s nepotistic regime? this whole matter is getty really sticky folks

    1. Anonymous

      That’s what the senate ethics committee is for. If the GOP really believes there’s substance behind their blather then file a complaint. I think the GOP knows their “issue” is meritless and they don’t want to file an ethics complaint and have a ruling on record that there is no merit.

  5. Guest

    As a Noem voter I am having a hard time getting all ginned up to support her for reelection because she is pro-farm dust.

    Someone please explain to me why Noem is so valuable to the conservative cause?

    Not that I’d ever vote for SHS but I’m thinking it doesn’t sway votes from soft R’s and I’s who would.

  6. Wet

    If the South Dakota media weren’t so busy kissing Brendan Johnson’s behind they would write a tough story about this scandalous arrangement. But they are all liberals so they will cover for him.

    1. deadwood dissident

      If the South Dakota media weren’t so busy being scared for their jobs, they would expose the SDGOP and the Governor’s Club for causing the collapse of the middle class in the State.

  7. caheidelberger

    Tony Post, are you still at it? Don’t you read? There is no potential violation of law. The Hatch Act doesn’t apply to Congressional staffers like Matt Varilek. All the press coverage has pointed that out very clearly. Get the memo, Tony: this issue is dead!

    Now, as for “stonewalling,” I would take it the Senator has no obligation whatsoever to comment on things that don’t exist. Tony Post would holler that I’ve had carnal knowledge of unicorns, and when my boss didn’t bother to refute the bogus claim, Post would shout about stonewalling and continue to decry potential one-horned horndoggery. Silly, silly, silly.

    Most telling in this story: Post is saying nothing about Noem’s appearances at hearings on pine beetles and farm dust. The silence on Noem’s non-record from her own state party continues.

  8. Carbon-Emission

    Corey Hedelberger, predictable mouthpiece of the Dems and former Madison teacher, apparently can’t read:

    31 U.S.C. § 1301(a), states that monies appropriated by Congress may only be spent for the purposes for which they were appropriated. This provision bars the misapplication or misuse of federal funds by federal agency personnel. That is, funds appropriated by Congress for an agency or a federal office for official purposes, may not be diverted and used for partisan political campaigns.

  9. Jimmy

    Why is this gov’t-paid staffer going around campaigning while on the public tit and what does Senator Johnson think about that? I think that’s the key question. Plus, if there’s a violation of something or a need for an investigation, how does that work when Brendan Johnson is the prosecutor? it’s just very odd

  10. Epistemology

    Facts are stubborn things, people. Fact is Varilick is well within the confines of the law regardless of his intentions. That is, unless you guys would like the FEDS to right a new law coercing our citizens into following different codes of conduct?

  11. oldguy

    TJ probably doesn’t even realize he works in his office. I really don’t see what the staffer did wrong as long as it was on his own time and the government didn’t pay his expenses.

  12. Epistemology

    Old Guy, that was a little below the belt. You should never diss on anyone with a disability. You should especially never accuse someone with a physical handicap of having a mental one as well. Any doctor in this world would tell you Johnson is mentally acute as ever, and could easily beat your sorry behind in an IQ test.

    1. Troy Jones

      I agree in concept but how are we to discuss Obama without mentioning his gross incompetance and apparent lack of a modicum of ability to think?

  13. Electrifying South Dakota

    I have always been taught that words have meaning, and it would appear that Mr. Post’s word selection would indicate a half-assed and immature attempt at representing the concerns of my party. I am not saying that Nesselhuff is better, but let’s not go for the lowest standard of discourse.

    1. Arrowhead

      I haven’t met Post but am going to guess that he is a nice person.

      My beef with Rave and Noem is that they took 2010 for granted and the people who served her best and worked the hardest often weren’t even considered for the ED position.

      I’m not saying Post is bad I’m just saying there were a lot of South Dakota activists who were equally qualified to be ED that didn’t even get a look from Rave or Noem.

  14. Arrowhead

    15 people knew who Varilek was until these press releases started going out. Now we’ve all read about him in the Argus and RCJ and MDR. It’s not smart to give an unkown opponent free media coverage. Let’s keep our powder dry.