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.