Friday, June 26, 2015

Brendan Johnson's Epic Fail In Rapid City

     Spent my lunch hour today at the Black Hills Forum And Press Club** monthly gathering in Rapid City.  The speaker today was Brendan Johnson (son of former U.S. Senator Tim Johnson), who appears to
Brendan Johnson
EB-5?  It's Not My Job
(photo from
be the only serious chance for South Dakota Democrats to field a statewide candidate with enough recognition and political gravitas (thanks to his pedigree) to mount a realistic challenge to one of the entrenched Republicans in Congress or the statehouse in Pierre.  Clad in blue jeans and casual sport coat, hair cut to standards set by Gentleman's Quarterly, the trim and boyish Johnson set an easygoing tone, talking mainly about his recent stint as South Dakota's U.S. Attorney and a few of the issues (Human trafficking came up a lot) he had to deal with.  

     He rather abruptly ran out of steam, though, taking up only about half of his alloted speaking time.  His talk was descriptive, but essentially substance-less (unless you think a rundown of how a U.S. Attorney runs his office is substantive)--a quality that spilled over into his hurried switchover to a question-answer period, for which I was able to stay prior to leaving the meeting early due to a business commitment (aka having to make a living, lol).  I thought I'd give his moxie a test and see how he'd react to my Q about EB-5, the "cash for green cards" fiasco that involved a bevy of SD officials in recent years.  We know all about how federal authorities have taken a pass on indicting any of the state officials involved, but there are still many unanswered questions that could use exposure and examination.  So I posed the following question, paraphrased:  Forgetting about your prior position as U.S. Attorney, as a South Dakota resident are you satisfied with the State of South Dakota's investigation into the EB-5 matter? 
     A simple enough question it was, basically consisting of one South Dakotan talking to another. I made it clear that I wasn't interested in his approach to the affair as U.S. Attorney, but rather his opinion on how the State of SD's investigation of the matter has gone.  I was hoping for a straightforward response. I was rebuffed, but not particularly surprised, given his prior reticence about commenting on the brouhaha.  Johnson ignored my Q and went on and on about how he and others in his office had to recuse themselves, generally putting a rhetorical wall between him and EB-5, which we've all heard before.  No problem with that, of course, but I couldn't get any more out of him than that. The facilitators of the event wouldn't let me pose a follow-up, mainly on the understandable grounds that
Does SD Need To Take A Harder Look?
What SayYou, Brendan Johnson?
(photo from
they wanted to spread the questioning opportunities around the room.  

     So, unless Mr. Johnson is willing to express his opinion--either here or elsewhere--on how the State of South Dakota has handled the investigation in EB-5, it looks like we'll probably never know.  What we do know is that he certainly has no interest in presenting himself as a crusader for truth and justice. Considering that at one point during the talk he described a stint in the U.S. House of Representatives as an exercise in banging one's "head against a wall," he seems intent on coming across as just a dedicated guy doing as well as he can at his newly acquired job in the private sector, which is where the moxie-less Johnson will no doubt perform well.  

**The Black Hills Forum and Press Club is a venture put together by Rapid Citians Bill Walsh and Stephen Wesolick.  It meets monthly for a luncheon and talk by a South Dakota public figure. Very lively stuff--suggest you check it out.  

1 comment:

  1. Shirley Harrington-MooreJune 26, 2015 at 4:47 PM

    better find a new candidate. Last election's gubernatorial candidate couldn't even carry her own water. At this rate we might as well fold up our tent and leave the field in disgrace.