As Russ Feingold and Wisconsin Democrats are calling on Ron Johnson to agree to a Badger Pledge that would remove special interest money from the U.S. Senate race, Johnson is refusing to give a straight answer on whether he’ll sign it — bringing up memories of how Johnson has refused to answer questions about a questionable payout he received after his 2010 campaign.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Johnson wouldn’t give a yes-or-no answer on whether he would sign the Badger Pledge.
Johnson, a “rich guy in the state of Wisconsin,” contributed $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 was a company founded by his father-in-law and is currently run by another Johnson brother-in-law. Almost immediately following his election, Johnson received a $10 million deferred compensation payoff from PACUR. 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.
And then just like now, Johnson is unwilling to give straight answers. 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.”
“Either Ron Johnson wants to make this election about issues important to Wisconsin by stopping dark money attack ads or he wants unlimited anonymous cash flooding the state – this isn’t a difficult question to answer,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Melissa Baldauff said Wednesday. “But given his history of refusing to answer simple questions, like whether his 2010 payoff was on the up-and-up, it’s no surprise that Johnson doesn’t want to give Wisconsin a straight answer.”