Fact Check: Ron Johnson Didn’t Fund his First Campaign

Nov 20, 2014

 In keeping with tradition, Ron Johnson isn’t going to self-finance his re-election campaign.
Speaking yesterday on C-SPAN, Johnson commented that, “I made my $9 million investment in this country…I gave it once, I don’t think I should do it again.”

According to campaign finance data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Johnson did in fact contribute $8.8 million to his 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate while working at PACUR, a plastics company started by Johnson’s brother-in-law whose biggest client is a company founded by his now-deceased father-in-law and is currently run by another brother-in-law.

But like most every other story with Tailgunner Ron, you need to know the rest of the story – his “investment in America” was immediately paid back by his in-law’s company as soon as the campaign was over. Johnson wants voters to think this was a selfless act – a great generous contribution – but it was no more than a Ponzi scheme to get elected. 

A quick fact check reveals that the former family-made businessman received a $10 million deferred compensation payoff from PACUR shortly after the election. Federal law prohibits corporations from donating to individuals running for public office; absent a written deferred compensation agreement signed and dated prior to Johnson’s Senate campaign, the compensation package potentially constitutes an illegal corporate campaign contribution.

Despite previous calls for transparency in campaign finance disclosures, Johnson was unwilling to offer an explanation for the questionable payout.  Speaking with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the time, Johnson said, “It’s a private business. I’ve complied with all the disclosure laws, and I don’t have to explain it any further to someone like you.”

“Through his words and his actions in the U.S. Senate, Ron Johnson has made clear that he is not to be taken seriously, but the same can’t be said for corporate money flowing through campaigns in the dark,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Wednesday. “We know that Tailgunner Ron’s family business financed his first campaign but it’s anyone’s guess which special interests will underwrite his second campaign.”