Ron Johnson's Campaign Supported By D.C. Lobbyists and Corporate Special Interests Funded by Secret Donors

Oct 27, 2010

Who Do You Trust to Be On Your Side?
Ron Johnson’s Campaign Supported By D.C. Lobbyists and Corporate Special Interests Funded by Secret Donors

Millionaire candidate has up to $10 million in Debt, Spends $9 million on Campaign

MADISON — Multimillionaire Republican candidate Ron Johnson’s campaign is fueled by his investments in companies like BP, health insurance companies, shadowy out-of-state special interest groups, and Washington lobbyists, according to FEC reports.  Johnson has also spent over $9 million of his family fortune on his campaign and his financial disclosure form shows Johnson has up to $10 million in debt to his his own company, Pacur.  Johnson has borrowed up to $10 million in company profits at less than 1 percent interest. The disclosure form shows Johnson loaned himself up to $5 million in 2004, and up to $5 million more in 2007.
It’s unclear how the privately held PACUR, a company that Johnson lists as worth no more than $5 million on his personal financial disclosure, could loan Johnson twice the company’s declared value in a span of just three years.
Among the corporate special interest money that has fueled Johnson’s campaign, is $10,000 from Koch Industries, the mammoth oil company and one of the nation’s top polluters.  Koch Industries, run by the Koch brothers, also bankrolls Americans For Prosperity and other shadowy interest groups.  Johnson also received a $10,000 PAC contribution from Wellpoint, Inc., the parent company of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Wisconsin, which earlier this year announced plans to raise health insurance premiums by more than 17 percent in Wisconsin.  Citizens United, the conservative group whose case overturned decades of campaign laws leading to secret money flowing into elections around the country, made a $5,000 PAC contribution to Johnson. 
Johnson has also received contributions from Washington politicians including Louisiana Senator David Vitter and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was recently named by Washingtonian Magazine the number one friend of Washington lobbyists.  Russ Feingold was named the number one enemy of Washington lobbyists.
“The report makes perfectly clear whose side Ron Johnson is on – the wealthy special interests that are fueling his campaign,” said Mike Tate, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, “Johnson talks a lot about debt but he is the only candidate with up to $10 million in debt to himself while he spends $9 million on his campaign.”
Contributors to Ron Johnson’s Campaign:
Ron Johnson’s $10 million in Debt and $9 million in campaign spending
Financial disclosure records show Johnson has $10 million in debt to his his company, Pacur.  Johnson has taken $10 million in company profits and loaned himself the cash at less than 1 percent interest. The disclosure form shows Johnson loaned himself up to $5 million from his own company in 2004, and up to $5 million more in 2007.
It’s unclear how the privately held PACUR, a company that Johnson lists as worth no more than $5 million on his personal financial disclosure, could loan Johnson twice the company’s declared value in a span of just three years.
Johnson has spent nearly $9 million of his family fortune on his campaign, more than any candidate in Wisconsin history. [$8,938,465.82 according to FEC Reports]
Citizens United Political Victory Fund:
$5,000 [10/6/2010 – FEC Reports]
During the 2008 campaign for president, Citizens United produced an aired a film against one of the candidates, Hillary Clinton. In District Court, Citizens United was found to have violated provisions of the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002. The Supreme Court reversed that decision, opening the door to nearly unlimited corporation, union, and special interest spending.
Koch Industries:
 $10,000 [7/16/2010, 9/29/2010 – FEC Reports]
WellPoint Inc.’s WellPAC:
$10,000 [9/13/2010 and 9/30/2010 – FEC Reports]
WellPoint Inc. is the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Wisconsin. Nationwide, it has more than 30 million customers. WellPoint has been cited numerous times for canceling health plans and breaking promises to patients, including breast cancer patients.  Doctors have also claimed that WellPoint has withheld payments for care they provided.  Earlier this year, WellPoint announced it would raise certain health plan rates by 17.2% in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, WellPoint forecasts rising profits and contributes to anti-health insurance reform candidates like Ron Johnson.
Founders Joint Candidate Committee:
$52,351 [Various Dates – FEC Reports]
The shadowy Founders Joint Candidate Committee is a conduit committee that directs funds into Ron Johnson’s campaign coffers.  It has done so 14 times, to the tune of more than $50,000. The Committee was founded by Keith A. Davis, a partner at Huckaby, Davis, Lisker, a firm that specializes campaign finance compliance.  Davis has worked for Republican presidential campaigns including Phil Gramm, Bush-Quayle and Bush-Cheney. Since 1991, he has been a compliance consultant for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and served as its treasurer in 2008.
Washington D.C. Lobbyists:
On Johnson’s visits to Washington, D.C. earlier this year, the D.C.-based professional fund-raising firm, the Bellwether Group, organized Johnson’s fund-raisers. Johnson attended a fund-raiser held by the organization in July, which was hosted by Washington D.C. lobbyists who have lobbied the federal government more than 2,500 times on issues for special interests such as the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, Society of the Plastics Industry, Association of Oil Pipe Lines, the Oxygenated Fuels Association, and others who have an extensive history lobbying on behalf of the health insurance industry.
The Bellwether Group made a reputation raising money for Congressman Tom Feeney, who lost his seat after he became engulfed in the largest Washington D.C. lobbying scandal in history. Feeney accepted a Scottish golf trip from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and was named one of the most corrupt members of Congress four times by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Roy Coffee – Principal at Coffee & Associates ($500): 
Rap Sheet:
–       Specialized in lobbying for foreign companies seeking to overturn sanctions against Iran during the Bush Era.
–       Deputy campaign manager on former President George W. Bush’s first campaign for governor in Texas;  Considered Bush’s “eyes and ears” on K Street and in the lobbying world
–       Connected to some of Washington’s dirtiest lobbying scandals:  “Roy Coffee and David DiStefano, have been connected to a foreign company’s attempt to work around U.S. sanctions against Iran and sell airplane parts to that nation – an attempt that centered on U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican accused in lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s recent plea agreement of accepting bribes. The two lobbyists were hired in 2003 by a pair of businessmen with résumés out of a James Bond movie. One, a Syrian gambler nicknamed “The Fat Man,” made his fortune in Middle East arms deals. The other, a felon, was banned from East Coast racetracks in the 1980s for his connections to organized crime and has a Tennessee rap sheet for trying to defraud Elvis Presley.”
Daniel Meyer – Senior Vice President at The Duberstein Group Inc. ($500) 
Rap sheet:
–       Meyer’s shop was paid $100,000 this year to lobby for BP as the Big Oil company has attempted to fight added oversight after the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Meyer is one of the lobbyists working on the BP account.
–       Former chief of staff to then-Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Steven J. Hart – Chairman and CEO of Williams & Jensen PLLC ($500) 
Rap Sheet:
–       Hart’s firm lobbies for insurance firms, big pharma, and the financial industry (including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).
–       Hart also lobbies for Enbridge, the oil company that recently spilled oil into a river leading to Lake Michigan.
–       According to his bio, “Mr. Hart has been named one of Washington’s top lobbyists by Washingtonian magazine and The Hill and one of the top fund-raisers by National Journal.”
Aleix Jarvis – Director of Fierce Isakowitz & Blalock ($1,000)
Rap sheet:
–       Jarvis, a fund-raising bundler for McCain, was scrutinized in 2008 because he lobbied on behalf of the European Aeronautic Defense & Space Company (EADS).  EADS received a controversial air force tanker deal after McCain had advocated for a change to the contracting requirements that made it disadvantageous to EADS. 
Eric M. Ueland – Vice President at The Duberstein Group Inc. ($500)
Rap sheet:
–       Ueland served as chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He left Capitol Hill to lobby for automobile, financial, retail, health, telecom, and aerospace clients, including, GM, Goldman Sachs, and BP.
Melissa M. Edwards – Lobbyist with Missy Edwards Strategies, LLC ($500)
Rap sheet:
–       Missy Edwards lobbies for financial services, health care, big pharma and energy issues.
–       Edwards previously lobbied at The Washington Group, which had deep ties to Russia.
William B. Canfield, III – Managing Partner at Capitol Strategic Advisors ($500)
Rap Sheet:
–       Canield was a lobbyist for telecommunication, health and big pharma interests for Williams and Jensen.  
–       Stevens is a former aide to Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, and a lawyer for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.  He is now the founder of the Commission on Hope, Growth and Opportunity, which is bankrolled by the financial services, energy and health insurance industries.
–       It has aired ads attacking Democrats in numerous states, but has failed to file reports for its expenditures.
$2.6 million in Washington special interests funding for Ron Johnson:
Among the powerful outside interest groups spending on Johnson’s behalf:
·      U.S. Chamber of Commerce – $742,206 to date
·      Committee for Political Truth – $600,000 to date
·      American Action Network – $536,880 to date
·      NRA Political Victory Fund – $300,510 to date
·      National Association of Manufacturers – $186,304 to date
·      Club for Growth – $169,365 to date
· – $121,965 to date
·      Americans for Prosperity – $22,000 to date
 Other outside groups who are spending heavily in favor of Ron Johnson include:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce – $742,206 spent to date
Agenda: Anti-health care reform, Pro-corporate interests
According to a report by Think Progress, “The Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding.”  According to the report:
“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. [Thing Progress 10/5/10]
The Committee for Political Truth – $600,000 spent to date
Agenda: Unfair Trade Deals That Ship Jobs Overseas
Launched by a North Carolina Republican operative, the shadowy out-of-state organization has fought to hide the source of the group’s money. National Public Radio reported,“But there’s at least one group that doesn’t want us to know anything. It’s in court, suing to strike down the disclosure requirements that tell us who runs ads near an election, how much gets spent and, sometimes, who puts up the cash. (National Public Radio “What They Don’t Want You To Know” 11/7/08)
With a reputation for running false, negative attack ads, even the organization’s very name is misleading. The organization’s attorney, James Bopp, defended Johnson campaign consultant Darrin Schmitz before the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a false, misleading ad Schmitz ran attacking justice Louis Butler. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, “In a recent Wisconsin ethics complaint case, Bopp defended the “right to mislead voters in campaign ads,” saying,” I don’t think misleading is something good, (but) it can’t be sanctioned.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 16, 2009). called their 2008 ad “absurdly wrong,” WISC-TV (Madison) said their ad is “misleading.” (Channel 3-Madison- “Reality Check”)
American Action Network – $536,880 spent to date
Agenda: Unfair Trade Deals That Ship Jobs Overseas, Health Care Repeal
Formed by Republicans such as former Bush political operative Karl Rove, Nixon political operative Fred Malek and Norm Coleman, the organization is funded and guided by extremists with a history of intolerance and funded by millionaires who back the Bush agenda of unfair trade deals that ship jobs overseas and cutting taxes for the rich.
The organization supported unfair trade deals such as the Panama and Columbia Trade Deals, even though unfair trade deals have led to at least 64,000 Wisconsin workers losing their jobs.  [AAN, accessed: 4/20/10]
Johnson has taken the same stand as AAN on trade, saying in July that unfair trade deals “have actually been successful for our economy.”[WPR 7/26/10]
Malek, the organization’s chairman, was denied a post by the U.S. Senate because as a member of the Nixon Administration he killed a lawsuit on blatantly political grounds that sought to end discriminatory hiring practices at the University of Texas.
Another Republican affiliated with the group, Haley Barbour, spoke at the white supremacist group, “Council of Conservative Citizens,” an organization that regularly publishes articles condemning “race mixing,” and laments the decline of white, European civilization.”  (Southern Poverty Law Center, “Council of Conservative Citizens”)
George Allen, a board member of American Action Network, was criticized by a Washington Post editorial for his use of a racial slur towards S.R. Sidarth, an Indian-American tracker for Jim Webb’s campaign.  [Washington Post Editorial, 8/15/06]
Club for Growth – $169,000 spent to date
Agenda: Budget-Busting Bush Tax Cuts for Rich, Health Care Repeal
Bankrolled by Wall Street special interests, Club For Growth has been attacked by fellow Republicans for its extreme agenda that supports the rich. Senator John McCain’s office has said the club is a ‘bagman for the ultra rich.’” [Washington Post, 1/17/03]
Club for Growth has a history of false, misleading attack ads, including one dubbed “incorrect” by Politifact on health care that falsely attempted to scare seniors into believing they would be denied expensive treatments. [Politifact,]
Club for Growth has called for the privatization of social security, and says its “first policy goal” is the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for the rich even while it opposes an increase in the minimum wage.  [Club for Growth, Online]
Americans for Prosperity – $22,000 spent to date
Agenda: Climate Change Denial, Environmental Deregulation
Americans for Prosperity is led by David Koch, whose companies have been repeatedly fined for environmental violations. In 2000, the EPA gave the company a massive fine for causing more than 300 oil spills across six states. [Bangor Daily News, 11/16/05] And the company has faced charges for illegally releasing benzene from an oil refinery, pled guilty for hiding information from investigators, among other charges.
AFP has a history of lobbying against efforts to reform energy and environmental policy. Koch PAC gave Johnson $10,000. Johnson and Koch share a similar extremist philosophy, and have tried to invent their own set of facts to deny climate change.
David Koch praising climate change:
“The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food,” he says. [New York Magazine, 7/25/10]
Ron Johnson praising climate change:
“I’m glad there is global warming.” [Jerry Bader Show 7/7/10]
Conservative Republicans
National Republican Senatorial Committee:$42,600 [9/13/2010 – FEC Reports] 
Other Republicans’ PACs:            $109,750 [FEC Reports]

Bluegrass Committee (Sen. Mitch McConnell) 6/28/2010 $10,000
Defend America PAC (Sen. Richard Shelby) 9/2/2010 $10,000
Next Century Fund (Sen. Richard Burr) 9/14/2010 $10,000
Senate Majority Fund (Sen. Jon Kyl) 6/29/2010 $10,000
Fund for a Conservative Future (Sen. James Inhofe) 9/30/2010 $5,000
Haley’s PAC (Governor Haley Barbour) 8/17/2010 $5,000
Heartland Values PAC (Sen. John Thune) 9/21/2010 $5,000
Next Century Fund (Sen. Richard Burr) 9/16/2010 $5,000
Republican Majority Fund (Sen. Saxby Chambliss) 10/25/2010 $5,000
Rock City PAC (Sen. Bob Corker) 9/29/2010 $5,000
TENN PAC, Inc. (Sen. Lamar Alexander) 6/30/2010 $5,000
The Alamo PAC (Sen. John Cornyn) 8/4/2010 $5,000
The Alamo PAC (Sen. John Cornyn) 6/28/2010 $5,000
The Senate Victory Fund PAC (Sen. Thad Cochran) 9/20/2010 $5,000
21st Century Majority Fund (Sen. Johnny Isakson) 10/1/2010 $2,500
Common Values PAC (Sen. John Barrasso) 10/19/2010 $2,500
Common Values PAC (Sen. John Barrasso) 9/21/2010 $2,500
Protect America’s Future PAC (Sen. George Lemieux) 9/27/2010 $2,500
The Hawkeye PAC (Sen. Chuck Grassley) 9/14/2010 $2,500
Prairieland PAC (Sen. Mike Johanns) 9/16/2010 $2,000
America’s Foundation PAC (Former Sen. Rick Santorum) 10/25/2010 $1,000
Fund for America’s Future (Sen. Lindsey Graham) 9/30/2010 $1,000
Louisiana Reform PAC (Sen. David Vitter) 9/15/2010 $1,000
TENN PAC, Inc. (Sen. Lamar Alexander) 10/5/2010 $1,000
The Hawkeye PAC (Sen. Chuck Grassley) 9/29/2010 $1,000