Millionaire Ron Johnson's Investments Pay Thousands To U.S. Chamber's Foreign Business Councils to Help Air Attack Ads on His Behalf

Oct 18, 2010

With Half of Ron Johnson’s 153 Stocks Foreign, What’s Good For
Egypt, China and Bahrain is Good for Ron Johnson

MADISON – Millionaire Senate Candidate Ron Johnson, who has become one of the latest Republicans to benefit from the attack ads aired by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is heavily invested in companies — foreign and domestic —  that pay dues to support the Chamber’s negative attack campaigns through foreign business councils, a review of Johnson’s stock holdings shows.

Johnson has bet significantly on foreign investments, with 79 of his 153 stocks classified as foreign. According to Think Progress, “the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account.”  Here’s how the Chamber raises foreign money to fund its attack campaign, the largest of any organization this year:

“In recent years, the Chamber has become very aggressive with its fundraising, opening offices abroad and helping to found foreign chapters (known as Business Councils or “AmChams”). While many of these foreign operations include American businesses with interests overseas, the Chamber has also spearheaded an effort to raise money from foreign corporations, including ones controlled by foreign governments. These foreign members of the Chamber send money either directly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or the foreign members fund their local Chamber, which in turn, transfers dues payments back to the Chamber’s H Street office in Washington DC. These funds are commingled to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6) account, which is the vehicle for the attack ads”

A review of Ron Johnson’s personal disclosure form indicates that Johnson owns between $750,000 and $1.96 million of stock in companies that pay at least $372,500 in dues to the U.S. Chamber through foreign business councils. 

Companies Johnson invests in that pay dues to the Chamber’s foreign business councils include Sanofi Aventis, which pays at least $7,500 annually to the Chamber’s U.S.-India Business Council, Occidental Petroleum, which pays at least $10,000 annually to the U.S.-Bahrain Business Council, JP Morgan Chase, which pays at least $10,000 annually to to U.S.-Korea Business Council, Alcoa which pays at least $2,500 annually to the U.S.-Bahrain Business Council and Tyco Electronics, which pays at least $15,000 to the U.S.-India Business Council.

Media reports also indicate the Chamber shares Ron Johnson’s support for shipping American jobs overseas.

 The Chamber has repeatedly sent out issue alerts attacking Democratic efforts to encourage businesses to hire locally rather than outsource to foreign counties. 
The Chamber has also bitterly fought Democrats for opposing unfettered free trade deals.[Think Progress 10/5/10]

Johnson has previously supported unfair trade deals claiming:

 “But the fact of the matter is NAFTA and CAFTA have actually been successful for our economy.” [Joy Cardin Show, Wisconsin Public Radio, 7/26/10]

But unfair trade deals have cost Wisconsin companies at least 64,000 jobs. [“Department of Labor Certified Trade-Related Job Loss,” Public Citizen, http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=2543, accessed 9/22/2010]

Johnson has also suggested that China is better for business than the U.S. Here’s what he said:

“I’d encourage people to go onto Youtube and type in Steve Wynn. He does about a five-minute piece where he’s talking about- he’s the fellow who does Wynn resorts in Las Vegas. He’s also creating resorts in Macau in China, communist China. And his point is, the level of uncertainty, the climate for business investment is far more certain in communist China then it is in the U.S. here.”  [Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Radio Network, 8/30/10]

The Wisconsin State Journal, which discovered the clip, reported that, “The host sounded a bit baffled by his response.” According to the State Journal, the host said:

“Ron…but Macau is in China. China is a socialist-planned economy,” he said. “The level of uncertainty…isn’t the level of uncertainty part of a side-effect, if you will, of our, of our democracy?”