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GOP Questions U.S. Attorney Nomination Process

October 8, 2009, 5:59 PM by Don Jorgensen

GOP Questions U.S. Attorney Nomination Process
The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved the appointment of Brendan Johnson, son of Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, as the next U.S. Attorney in South Dakota.  But some Republicans are now crying foul over the process.

When 34-year-old Brendan Johnson applied for the U.S. Attorney's position, he made it clear to KELOLAND News, his father, who is the ranking senior senator in South Dakota, would stay out of the process.  But last week when Brendan Johnson's nomination was delayed, Senator Johnson contacted Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy to find out why.

South Dakota Republicans feel Johnson broke a promise. 

"The reality here is Senator Johnson made a commitment earlier this year to steer clear of being involved in the appointment of Brendan Johnson, clearly the Republican Party feels the decision should be based on merits and qualifications, not what your last name is or who you know," executive director of South Dakota's Republican Party Lucas Lentsch said.

Senator Johnson's office tells KELOLAND News Brendan Johnson was appointed by the President but confirms the Senator did check on the status of his son's nomination only because there are several positions that remain unfilled, not just his son's. 

"Senator Johnson is only doing his job on behalf of the people of the state to make sure all of these nominees are getting through and being filled and has made inquiries on other positions that remain unfilled just as the U.S. Marshals are being filled in ," Senator Johnson's communication's director, Julianne Fisher, said.

It turns out Brendan Johnson wasn't the only South Dakotan who applied to be the state's next U.S. attorney. Beadle County States attorney Michael Moore also applied. Moore says he thinks it was a fair process.

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