ICYMI: Ron Johnson’s Wealth Boosted by Stake in Company Whose Growth Linked to China

Sep 13, 2022

ICYMI: Ron Johnson’s Wealth Boosted by Stake in Company Whose Growth Linked to China

MADISON, Wis. – A new report details how Ron Johnson’s family’s wealth has increased due to their ties to China.

The Guardian: Republican’s wealth boosted by stake in company whose growth linked to China

Key Points:

  • Wisconsin Republican senator Ron Johnson, a vocal critic of Beijing who has vowed to launch investigations into the Biden family’s alleged relationships with Chinese businesses, declared $57m in income in his first 10 years in office in connection to his ownership stake in a company whose growth has closely been linked to China.
  • Financial disclosures show the senator’s wealth has sharply increased during his years running for and serving in the Senate thanks to his holding in Oshkosh-based Pacur, a plastics maker where Johnson previously served as top executive.
  • A close examination of Johnson’s financial disclosures and other public filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission, legal filings and other public records reveal that Johnson’s wealth was boosted by his company’s ties to another company that was owned and managed by his family, which in turn grew its business in China, acquired businesses in China, and reported having a loan worth tens of millions of dollars from the Bank of China.
  • In one case, the company run by Johnson’s family sued the US government to try to press for softer trade relations with Beijing, a position that Johnson himself adopted in a rare break with Trump administration policies.
  • Johnson sold his stake in Pacur in 2020, although documents show that an LLC owned by Johnson and his wife, Jane, still receives up to $1m annually through rent and royalties as owners of the building where Pacur operates.
  • SEC documents show that, from about 1998 to 2010, Bemis paid tens of millions of dollars to Pacur, which was a supplier to Bemis. Johnson also personally owned Bemis stock, valued at between $1m and $5.2m on financial disclosure forms. The stock was later gifted to the senator’s family foundation, called the Grammie Jean Foundation.
  • The company has plants in China and in 2013, records show, appear to have acquired tens of millions of dollars in Chinese debt in connection to a Chinese acquisition. SEC filings show that Bemis also disclosed in 2016 that it had a $50m Bank of China loan.
  • Bemis was sold to Australia-based Amcor in 2018 in a deal valued at $6.8bn. The Guardian reached out to Amcor for more details about the $50m loan, which appeared in Bemis filings before Amcor acquired the company. A spokesperson for Amcor said Amcor was not involved in the loan and did not have insights into the transaction.
  • Bemis was also active on issues related to trade during Johnson’s Senate tenure.
  • In two cases, the group filed suit against the US government’s policies on trade in China, including one suit in 2018. In the legal action brought by Bemis and Rollprint Packaging Products, the plaintiffs sued the United States to contest a finding by the International Trade Commission in support of tariffs on China. The lawsuit did not appear to proceed beyond the complaint. At the same time, Johnson was a vocal critic of US trade policy against China, marking a rare disagreement with Trump.
  • Henning also denied that Johnson accrued $57m in income in connection to Pacur from 2009 to 2020, because she claimed some of the funds were designated as “gross receipts” even though they are listed in financial disclosure forms as “income”.
  • Gross receipts are the amount of business that an organization reports before stripping out expenses. When asked by the Guardian to explain why Johnson had listed the funds as income in his financial disclosures, and what the Gross Receipts referred to, Henning did not respond.