2009-01-29 / Headlines

Brendan Johnson sends application for US attorney

By Carson Walker Associated Press Writer

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) Sioux Falls attorney Brendan Johnson has formally applied to the Obama administration for the U.S. attorney's job in South Dakota.

He is the son of Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson but said his father made it clear he would not be a part of the nomination process, so the application was sent to the White House this week.

``My father said, 'Don't consult me. Don't update me. I'm not going to be involved in the process,''' he said.

The current U.S. attorney, Marty Jackley, was appointed by President Bush.

``I respect that the new administration has a legitimate interest in having a nominee they select for the US attorney, and I intend to work diligently toward a smooth transition. As long as I am serving as United States attorney, I further intend to continue to zealously and professionally represent our state,'' he said.

Normally, the senior congressional delegation member of the president's political party puts forth a name for consideration.

Johnson, 33, said because the family connection removed that usual link, he sought the support of South Dakotans of both political parties and sent the application directly to the new administration.

``He'd be one of the people they'd confer with. But he took himself out of it,'' he said.

Johnson said the White House and Department of Justice will arrive at a decision based on background, experience and temperament, and he wasn't trying to keep anyone else from applying, nor does he believe he's a shoo-in.

``I wanted to make sure that Democrats as well as Republicans would be comfortable if I did get it,'' Johnson said of the letters of support he sought.

The position is supposed to be nonpartisan, which has been his approach as a defense lawyer and earlier as a deputy state's attorney for Minnehaha County, he said.

Johnson allowed The Associated Press to see the application, saying he wants to be open about the process.

The support includes Democrats U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, state Senate Minority Leader Scott Heidepriem, state Sen. Nancy Turbak Berry and Vermillion Mayor Dan Christopherson.

Among the Republicans writing letter of support: Attorney General Larry Long, former governor and congressman Bill Janklow, state Senate Judiciary Chairman Gene Abdallah and Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson.

Other letters came from people in law enforcement, judges and several former state Bar Association presidents.

The process for getting the job could take several months. Johnson said if he gets it, his priorities would be the state's drug problem and domestic violence and sexual assault crimes on the state's American Indian reservations.

Herseth Sandlin wrote that Johnson has experience prosecuting those types of crimes and would apply it to the U.S. attorney's office.

``Brendan Johnson's experience and credentials speak for themselves, as do the bipartisan statements of support he has received,'' she wrote.

``Brendan Johnson grew up in a political family; however, he has earned by his deeds, words and works the respect of the greater community'' and has ``all the attributes desired to be a great chief legal officer,'' Janklow wrote.

Johnson's wife, Jana Johnson, is a doctor in Sioux Falls. They have four children, including two they adopted from Ethiopia.

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