South Dakota’s Johnson: Super-PAC

Photograph by Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

Senator Tim Johnson, a Democrat from South Dakota and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, arrives to hear Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, deliver his semiannual monetary policy report to the Senate Banking Committee in Washington.

A lobbyist and former aide to Sen. Tim Johnson, the South Dakota Democrat who leads the Banking Committee, has created a super-political action committee that could independently aid Johnson’s re-election campaign in 2014.

Mike Chapman, co-founder and partner of D.C. Strategies, is listed as the treasurer and custodian of records for Heartland America PAC, which filed organizing papers last week with the Federal Election Commission and can accept donations in unlimited amounts.

The FEC papers don’t identify the purpose of the super-PAC. Chapman’s LinkedIn profile says he is “currently integrally involved with Tim Johnson’s 2014 re-election campaign.” A biography on his firm’s Web-site said the same thing as recently as last week, though that language has since been removed. Chapman has “worked closely with Senator Johnson over the 25 years he has served in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate and is one of his closest friends and political allies,” the biography states.

Chapman didn’t respond to two e-mails and a phone call seeking comment about the purpose of the super-PAC.

Republican Mike Rounds, South Dakota’s governor from 2003 to 2011, announced Nov. 29 that he will seek Johnson’s seat. A phone message left today with the South Dakota Democratic Party wasn’t immediately returned.

“As in past campaigns, I will make my formal announcement later next year,” Johnson said in a Nov. 29 statement responding to Rounds’ announcement. “But I feel great, still have work to do, and I fully intend to put together a winning campaign in the weeks and months ahead.”

Here’s a profile of Johnson that my colleague Phil Mattingly wrote in June, when the Senate Banking Committee led by Johnson questioned JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon about trading losses.

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