Krebs, Johnson spar after Krebs releases ad targeting Johnson's work history

Published: May. 25, 2018 at 10:35 PM CDT
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Secretary of State Shantel Krebs released a new political ad on Friday targeting her competition in the race for U.S. House, Dusty Johnson.

The ad calls out his decision to step down from the Public Utilities Commission to take a role as Chief of Staff to Gov. Daugaard. Johnson said Krebs is exaggerating the timeline.

"The reality is that I was asked to serve to help eliminate a $127 million budget deficit without raising taxes," Johnson said. "And I was happy to do that as Chief of Staff, but it simply didn't happen in the timeline that secretary Krebs alleged."

The ad goes on to say Johnson used a state plane for personal business and vacations, something else he said, just isn't true.

"Things like luxurious vacations, I don't know what that is," Johnson said. "I never used any state assets to attend any personal events and nobody's brought forth any proof to the contrary."

An attorney for Johnson's camp sent a cease and desist letter to KSFY News calling the ad, "defamatory," and asking that it be pulled in, "any and all forms."

Johnson admits he did take a job with higher pay, paid for by taxpayers, but that Krebs' allegations are overblown.

"Everything in the ad is an exaggeration, if it's not outright untrue," Johnson said. "I understand that campaigns that are nervous about losing start to stretch the truth a little bit, but this has gone too far. At some point, facts matter."

The gloves might be coming off but Johnson said he won't be swinging back.

"I do think a lot of campaigns their first reaction after being attacked would be to counter-punch, that's not the way I'm wired," he said. "I am a positive, optimistic person I think that's what we need in politics to make the kind of progress we have to have in this country. I'm not gonna fire back with some grainy, terrible, horrific, negative ad just because I was attacked. I'm better than that."

A spokesperson for Krebs issued this statement to KSFY News late Friday night:

“South Dakotans deserve to know the truth about those that seek to represent them,” said Krebs. "Politicians that campaign on cutting budgets and reducing deficits, all the while hiding from their wasteful disregard for taxpayer dollars, may be a good fit to join the swamp, but not drain it."

“Hard working South Dakotans get up and drive to work everyday, without a fancy plane to taxi them around – if it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for bureaucrats like Dusty Johnson. He owes the people of this state an explanation,” she continued. “If this is how he was in Pierre, it’s easy to see what we can expect from him in Washington…more of the same.”

Both candidates are vying to punch their ticket in the June 5 primary for the Republican nomination for U.S. House. The winner of the primary will take on the Democratic candidate Tim Bjorkman in November.