US Attorney General Holder has high praise for Brendan Johnson

While the NRSC was throwing cold water on Brendan Johnson, as he announced his exit from the office of US Attorney, in a release today, US Attorney General Eric Holder had high praise for the younger Johnson in his duties, and held him out as “as a key advisor to senior Justice Department officials” including himself:

Attorney General Holder Statement on the Departure of Brendan Johnson as the United States Attorney of the District of South Dakota

Attorney General Eric Holder released the following statement on the departure of U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson:

“During Brendan Johnson’s tenure as United States Attorney for South Dakota, he has distinguished himself as an exemplary leader, a passionate advocate for his fellow citizens, and an extraordinarily dedicated public servant,” said Attorney General Holder.  “As a lawyer and as a leader, Brendan has set a standard of excellence that will not soon be surpassed.  Particularly with regard to public safety challenges on tribal lands, he has served as a key advisor to senior Justice Department officials – including me.  As past Chair of the Native American Issues Subcommittee, he is not only a respected champion for tribal justice in his own right, but a critical national leader – offering sound guidance, wise counsel, and candid advice on a host of pressing issues.  In standing against violent crime, fraud, drug trafficking, violence against women, and countless other threats, Brendan’s fierce and determined service, on behalf of the people of South Dakota, has been without equal.  Although he will be greatly missed, his many contributions will endure.  I thank him for his outstanding service – to South Dakota, and to our nation – and wish him all the best as he takes on new challenges and opportunities.”

Is that an endorsement we’re going to see used in a future campaign advertisement?

NRSC puts Brendan Johnson on notice that they “wont give him a pass” upon his resignation

The Press Conference at which Brendan Johnson has announced his resignation (Effective 3/11, I believe) is still going on, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee is wasting no time in going after Johnson, likely in case Democrats manage to recruit him to take on John Thune.

I personally don’t think that’s going to happen, but it’s politics, and anything goes!  Here’s the release from the Republican US Senator’s Political organization:


 NRSC Statement Regarding Brendan Johnson’s Departure As U.S. Attorney

WASHINGTON – With Brendan Johnson, the son of former Senator Tim Johnson, set to quit his job as the United States Attorney for the District of South Dakota, the NRSC released the statement regarding his impending departure.

“It became clear that young Brendan Johnson was not ready for the job, once his father had to pull a few strings to get him a hearing and the votes for his confirmation. Brendan should know the next time he steps into the ring we won’t give him a pass, nor will his dad be able to bail him out.” – NRSC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek

The non-political, political tenure of Brendan Johnson in the office of US Attorney

I’d predicted it a while ago, and noted it again earlier tonight. Except tonight the dam broke loose.

The second and remaining member of the Johnson family in the public eye is going to be resigning and opening a law office in Sioux Falls, according to sources this evening.  United States Attorney Brendan Johnson, son of retired Democratic Senator Tim Johnson is said to be making an announcement of opening a law office in the Sioux Falls area.

From the onset when South Dakota’s US Attorney applied for the job, his tenure in the non-political job was marked with loads of political controversy, much of it over his relationship with his father, the US Senator.

At the time of his application, the Senior Johnson noted to the state media that he would be seeking no special favors in article in the application of his son for the job. However as recounted in a 2009 article from the political website/magazine Politico:

When Brendan Johnson, a 34-year-old Sioux Falls lawyer, applied for the post of U.S. attorney for South Dakota last January, he made one thing clear to a local paper: His father, Sen. Tim Johnson, would have nothing to do with his seeking the job. “My father said, ‘Don’t consult me. Don’t update me. I’m not going to be involved in the process,’” he said.

The elder Johnson made the same promise.

But last week, when Brendan Johnson’s nomination unexpectedly ran into problems, the senator and his aides began a behind-the-scenes effort to find out what happened. The South Dakota Democrat contacted both Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) to figure out what the delay was.

After a brief period when it looked like the son’s nomination could be put off, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to take it up Thursday.

Sen. Johnson’s office confirmed that the lawmaker “did ask Leahy about the status of the nomination” but said he did not originally push his son as a candidate for the post with the White House. Brendan Johnson, though, was the only person to submit an application for the job.

Read that here.

The appearance of favoritism dogged the younger Johnson through much of his tenure with the Department of Justice.  And as the elder Johnson was making overtures to take a step back, the old 2009 allegations came up again in 2013, as a group of nine lawmakers, including State Senator Dan Lederman sent a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee as recounted by former Argus Reporter David Montgomery:

…as speculation mounts about if and when Johnson will declare his candidacy, a group of Republican state legislators are reviving some 2009 accusations concerning Johnson’s ties to his father.

State Sen. Dan Lederman and 9 other lawmakers have sent an official letter to the Senate ethics committee, requesting an investigation into possible impropriety collected to Johnson’s 2009 nomination as U.S. Attorney.

The letter rehashes accusations made at the time, that Tim Johnson had improperly influenced the nomination and confirmation of his son. Tim Johnson has denied the claims.

Lederman denied that the letter had anything to do with the rumors that Johnson will run for Senate, but the letter does return the issue to the public eye as political watchers wait to see what Johnson will do.

“This is about getting the right answers, and having the people in charge of this to do their job,” Lederman said.


Read that here.

As originally noted here at the SDWC, the letter was signed by Senator Lederman, Senator Mark Kirkeby, Senator Phil Jensen, Senator Dave Omdahl, Senator Bruce Rampelberg, Representative Don Kopp, Representative Charlie Hoffman, Representative Jim Stalzer,  Representative Jenna Haggar and Representative Don Haggar.

Much of this was posturing may have been driven by the possibility that the younger Johnson was a strong possibility to enter the race for US Senate to replace his retiring father.  As after US Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid had allegedly met with the Senior Johnson to push for Brendan to wait to run for the office, in deference to Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, many of the accusations of nepotism dropped to a low simmer in Republican circles.

Of course, as we all know, Rick Weiland scuttled even those plans, leaving Democrats with himself, a third tier candidate.

Brendan Johnson continued to be a name thrown about in partisan politics in the 2014 US Senate Race, especially when it came to his office’s investigation of the EB-5 Immigration visa matter, as noted by the SDGOP as recently as October:

Democrats Condone Silence By Partisan Democrat
U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson

Hunhof’s “forum” is a partisan sham, cover-up for Brendan Johnson

Sioux Falls, SD – South Dakota Democrats continue to ignore the refusal by President Obama’s handpicked U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, Brendan Johnson, to speak on the end of investigations into the federal EB-5 program.

“Representative Hunhof’s ‘forum’ is a partisan sham,” said Dick Wadhams, spokesman for the South Dakota Republican Party. “Hunhof conveniently ignores the fact that the only public official who refuses to speak on EB-5 is partisan Democratic U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson who refuses to tell the people of South Dakota the truth, that there is no ongoing investigation of the federal EB-5 program.”

“By his silence, Brendan Johnson is lying about EB-5,” Wadhams said. “Brendan Johnson is using his federal office for partisan political purposes by refusing to speak.”

Read that press release from the SDGOP here.

And despite continued calls for him to press charges or clear Mike Rounds from the often wild-eyed accusations in the matter, Johnson continued his silence in the investigation.

With the impending end of his tenure with the office, this places the younger Johnson back into the field as a political player… albeit at a time when Democrats are arguably at some of their poorest numbers of voters, number of elected officials in 50 years or more, and a decimated bench of candidates in the wings.   And it only gets worse from there.

2016 could provide an opening for him, but that would give him 9 months or less in his new position supposedly being announced tomorrow. With the law change set to happen, any petitioning would begin in December.

Not to mention the fact that in 2016 he’d be a new candidate either taking on the experienced US Senate Candidate with $10 million in the bank, or the experienced Congressional candidate with $1 million in the bank.

More conventional wisdom would have the younger Johnson spending some time to establish himself at his new private sector position, as Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has. And possibly waiting until Democratic fortunes are slightly more favorable, such as with open seats in 2018, especially if Noem runs for Governor, vacating her House seat.

But that’s just speculation. A specialty of ours. What we do know is that tomorrow will likely mark the end of the non-political, political tenure of Brendan Johnson in the office of US Attorney.

And you read it here first…

From the associated press comes more on the story that I’d mentioned earlier was making the rounds in Pierre:

The Associated Press reports the U.S. attorney for South Dakota plans to resign and open an office in Sioux Falls for a private law firm.

A source with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to discuss it confirmed to The Associated Press that Brendan Johnson will announce his resignation Wednesday at a news conference.

Read it here.

Lots of rumors out there tonight. Job change in the works for the U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson?

Remember that rumor I was hearing a month or so about the US Attorney Brendan Johnson possibly leaving his job?

Well, I’m hearing those rumors out of Pierre again this evening, particularly that a big announcement is coming tomorrow along those lines.

Stay tuned….

Update – Sounds like Mercer might have heard it as well…


County Commissioners take offense at legislator’s comments

Uh oh.  Someone made County Commissioners mad.

Despite arguably being the highest paid part-time elected officials…. who are also known to vote for taxpayer paid health insurance for themselves…  County Commissioners took offense when State Rep Don Haggar noted that they may be spendthrifts.

(I’m not sure if that’s in comparison to austere State Legislators who have measures in this year to raise their own salaries.)

During the regular weekly meeting, Dick Kelly, who has been a commissioner since 2009, scolded Don Haggar, a legislator in his second term, for comments Haggar made to the House of Representatives in Pierre. Kelly said Haggar owes an apology to South Dakota’s 325 county commissioners he insulted with his remarks.

Haggar compared funds given to county governments to candy and implied the more a county is given, the more it will spend. The House was debating HB 1216 at the time. That bill, which failed on the House floor 22-46, had the intent to “repeal the limitation on the total amount of revenue payable from taxes on real property for all taxing districts, except school districts.”

In his prepared remarks, Kelly said, “I don’t normally comment on statements made by other elected officials on the floor of the legislature, but remarks made on the House floor by State Rep. Don Haggar last Wednesday during debate on HB 1216 pertaining to the restriction on property taxes deserves an answer. He state the proposed amendment to 10-13-25 was tantamount (his words) to putting a jar of candy on a representative’s desk and expecting it to say full, though I can’t understand why you would put it there and not expect people to partake if they feel the need. He then went on, and I quote ‘those county officials are going to find ways to spend the money. Their appetites will rise to the level of the candy available. That’s what will happen.’

Read it here.

Basically Don illustrated his point by saying they’d gobble up all the candy, Don Kelly says “I can’t understand why you would put it there and not expect people to partake if they feel the need”  and then he grumbles because he doesn’t like the comparison.

Come on guys – can’t we all just get along?:

Big mayoral race in Brookings this year.

As I was signing a candidate petition today, I was reminded that yesterday, current Brookings Mayor Tim Reed announced via twitter in an exclamatory manner (using all caps for what might be his slogan) that he was running again for election:

This came shortly after an announcement by current City Commissioner and Brigadier General Keith Corbett in the last week or so that he was throwing his hat in the ring as well:

Keith W. Corbett, a Brookings city councilor for the past 4 1/2 years, has announced his intention to seek the mayor’s office. There are three council vacancies this year, the mayorship and two council seats. While current Brookings mayor Tim Reed has indicated he’ll seek re-election, Corbett insists that “I’m not running against anyone I’m running for the office of mayor.”

Read that here.

I know both, and actually worked for Keith many, many moons ago when I was a SDSU Student, and he was the chief of the university police.   I think they’re both good people.

It’s going to be an interesting contest, as there doesn’t seem to be open discontent among the populace. Reed has been mayor since 2007 after being appointed when Scott Munsterman stepped down. Reed didn’t have a subsequent race in 2009. And if memory serves when he was up again in 2012, I don’t recall he had a race then, either, due to the cancellation of the election.

So after all of this time, Tim Reed, a Republican who describes himself a political moderate, after 8 years will be facing his first actual election campaign as mayor against City Councilman Keith Corbett, also a Republican.

This could be an interesting one to watch.

Hughes County Lincoln Day Dinner tonight. So is the Democrat’s senior coffee group

Have you got your ticket yet? The annual Hughes County Lincoln Day dinner is being held at the Ramkota tonight with guest speaker incoming GOP State Chair Pam Roberts. This is usually the first big event of the political season, and is usually very well attended.  Social hour is 5:30 p.m. and dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30.

Apparently the Dems are going to try to get in on the act as well. They’re meeting at the Ft. Pierre Senior Citizens center, led by their chairman Ann Tornberg starting at around 6, where Democrat Legislators will give updates about session.

I’m thinking that’s going to take about 5 minutes, Just long enough for the coffee to get cold.


Rounds Announces Internship Opportunities in Washington, South Dakota Offices


Rounds Announces Internship Opportunities
in Washington, South Dakota Offices

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today announced internship opportunities in his Washington, D.C., Pierre, Rapid City and Sioux Falls offices for the summer 2015 semester. The summer semester will run from May to August 2015. College credit is available.

Duties in the Washington, D.C., office may include tracking legislation, researching bills, attending committee hearings and briefings, leading tours of the U.S. Capitol, handling constituent phone calls, sorting mail and providing legislative support. Duties in the South Dakota offices include researching constituent inquiries and requests, participation in outreach activities, assisting staff on special projects, handling phone calls and constituent requests and sorting mail. In all offices, students will work closely with constituents and staff, polish their research and writing skills and gain an in-depth understanding of a Senate office.

Interested applicants should submit a resume, cover letter and preferred internship location to Connie Tveidt, intern coordinator, no later than March 15, 2015:

Senator Mike Rounds
Attn: Connie Tveidt
111 W. Capitol St., Suite 210
Pierre, SD 57501

Applications may also be emailed to [email protected].

More information about the internship program can be found at Additional questions can be directed to Connie Tveidt at (605) 224-1450.


Nothing but the drunk and topless back in my little town.

Does this belong under political news… or weird news?  The Buffalo Chip Campground is apparently trying to become it’s own municipality. Why don’t I think it’s not going to ban alcohol sales on Sunday:

Hagg said there currently are 47 eligible voters in the area. State law says qualified voters are either registered voters in the proposed municipality or landowners in the proposed municipality who are also registered voters of this state.

The proposed municipality will cover 600 acres.


So, Buffalo Chip could be a town by this year’s 75th anniversary Sturgis motorcycle rally.

Read it here.