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Brendan Johnson Announces Resignation

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Kealey Bultena
/
SDPB

After more than five years as South Dakota’s United States Attorney, Brendan Johnson is stepping down. Wednesday Johnson held a news conference to announce that March 11th is his final day in the office.

Brendan Johnson says he set goals when he became South Dakota’s U-S Attorney five and a half years ago. He says he’s proud of accomplishments made under his leadership. Johnson says tribal communities are safer, violence against women and children has decreased, and South Dakotans are cracking down on sex trafficking.

"Since 2009, we’ve prosecuted more men who’ve received life sentences in federal court than any other federal district in the United States," Johnson says. "Further, South Dakota has put more men in federal prison with mandatory minimum sentences for attempting to purchase sex with a child than any other US Attorney’s office in the country."

Johnson says his office made great gains, but not everyone is happy with the way he handles investigations. Johnson says he attracted criticism recently when he refused to confirm or deny a federal inquiry related to South Dakota’s EB-5 immigrant visa program.

"I don’t discuss whether or not there are ongoing criminal investigations," Johnson says. "I don’t think it’s appropriate for a prosecutor to do that. I know that other people feel differently. But in my view there’s either an indictment or there isn’t."

Johnson has been the focus of political speculation for several election cycles. He says he won’t talk about politics while he’s South Dakota’s US Attorney.

"With the folks in my office that have to appear in front of juries everyday, one thing that has been very important to me as US Attorney is to keep politics out of the office. Because, when they stand in front of a jury, they represent the United States of America, and I don’t want politics interfering with that, because their job and their role is far more important than anybody’s political aspirations," Johnson says.

When Johnson leaves office, First Assistant United States Attorney Randy Seiler becomes acting US Attorney. It’s up to the White House to appoint a permanent federal attorney for the state.

Johnson is one of the longest serving US Attorneys in the country. After he leaves the office, Johnson plans to work for a national law firm opening an office in Sioux Falls.