ICYMI: Ron Johnson Caught Using Thousands of Taxpayer Dollars for Vacation Travel

May 26, 2022

ICYMI: Ron Johnson Caught Using Thousands of Taxpayer Dollars for Vacation Travel

MADISON, Wis. — A new report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel highlights Ron Johnson spending up to $18,781 of taxpayer money to pay for his vacation travel.

Key Points: 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Sen. Ron Johnson uses tax dollars to travel between Florida family home and the U.S. Capitol

  • U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson has been using taxpayer dollars to cover the cost of flights between a Florida family vacation home and Washington, D.C., including nine such trips last year, federal records show.

  • Federal records show that Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, has been reimbursed for 19 flights from Fort Myers, Florida, to Washington between 2013 and May 2021.
  • JFT Investments LLC bought a 3,400-square-foot waterfront house in Fort Myers, near Sanibel Island, for $1.6 million in October 2013. JFT Investments is an affiliate of the Johnson family trust, which was set up by the senator and his wife, Jane Johnson, for their three children, Johnson’s office confirmed.

  • The limited liability corporation, a holding company for various propertiesused to share the same address with Pacur, an Oshkosh plastics company formerly owned by Johnson. Ben Johnson, the senator’s son, had been listed as the company’s registered agent, and Jane Johnson once signed a notice for repairs to the house.

  • Johnson’s adult children also own a private business jet that he used to travel between Wisconsin and Washington during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

  • Johnson, first elected in 2010, took no trips to or from Fort Myers before the Florida house was purchased by JFT Investments in 2013.

  • By contrast, Wisconsin’s senior senator went to Fort Myers at least nine times between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 10, 2021. Those flights between Florida and Washington cost taxpayers anywhere from $227 to $1,152.

  • Johnson then billed taxpayers $565 to fly to Washington two days later to vote on certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. Johnson was among those who voted in favor of certification, after first indicating that he planned to join with 10 other Republican senators in objecting to the certification.

  • He returned to Florida on Jan. 7, the day after the attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

  • It is impossible to determine the exact cost for Johnson’s jaunts from Florida because many of the reimbursements were lumped in with expenses from other trips, including some within Wisconsin.

  • But Senate records show the trips cost taxpayers at least $5,418 and no more than $18,781. 

  • Johnson and his wife recently listed assets worth between $16.55 million and $78.3 million at the end of last year, about the same as the previous year. Johnson wasn’t required to report his annual $174,000 salary as a U.S. senator.

  • Jacquelyn Lopez, a partner with the Elias law firm in Washington, said tax dollars are intended for official business, not personal trips.

  • “The rules are clear,” Lopez said. “A senator may not use taxpayer dollars to fund personal travel to or from a family vacation home.  As a matter of federal law and Senate ethics rules, senators may only use official funds for travel that is essential to the transaction of official business.”