Jeff Johnson's campaign defends criticized Facebook Q&A


Many months after he was criticized by a liberal group for attending a 9/11 truther event, Jeff Johnson is taking heat from the left once again.

Yesterday morning, Johnson, the MNGOP endorsed candidate for governor, held a Facebook "Conversation & Coffee" event live from his party's new headquarters right in the heart of one of Minneapolis's crunchiest neighborhoods. Nothing newsworthy about that.

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But the DFL put Johnson on blast after a softball question from a certain Ed Koeller was answered by Ed's wife, MNGOP communications strategist Kelsy Koeller.


A DFL press release explains the controversy succinctly, and provides a screengrab:

A Minnesota Republican Party "Conversation and Coffee" with Jeff Johnson, the endorsed candidate for Governor, kicked off with a question from Ed Koeller and was responded to by his wife, Kelsy Koeller. The woman, who describes herself as a MNGOP Communications Strategist, signed the answer "JJ." The post was eventually deleted.

That answer was later reposted from the MNGOP's official account:

DFL Chairman Ken Martin took the opportunity to take a shot at Johnson.

"People have to wonder who is pulling the strings in the Jeff Johnson campaign and why he cannot answer questions himself," Martin says in the DFL release. "And is there so little interest in Johnson's campaign that a GOP strategist had to call on a family member to 'ask' a question?"

But the Johnson campaign says the DFL is making much ado about nothing.

Johnson "went there and they put a computer in front of him, and it was [Kelsy Koeller's] computer and she was signed into Facebook," Johnson spokesman David Strom tells us. "But Jeff was there and answering the questions and they came pretty fast and furious."

Strom, who says he was in the room while Johnson was conducting the Q&A, says Johnson had no idea the Koellers are married.

"The fact the guy is her husband -- number one, we didn't know that, and number two, it doesn't surprise us that GOP activists are people that would be going to the Facebook chat," Strom says. "In fact, we suspect all of [the folks asking questions] are GOP activists. I mean, none of the questions struck us as curveballs or anything like that."

The four-way Republican gubernatorial primary is scheduled for August 12.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.