Close

Five Questions For Ron Johnson About His Shady Campaign Finance Scheme

With renewed focus on Ron Johnson’s shady 2010 campaign finance scheme in the press, Wisconsin voters are still left with more questions than answers. After Johnson put $9 million of his own money into his 2010 race, he was conveniently awarded a $10 million “deferred compensation” package from his company. When questioned about this arrangement, Johnson snapped and told a reporter that “I’ve complied with all the disclosure laws, and I don’t have to explain it any further to someone like you.” Since then, Johnson has refused to provide any proof or documentation that the scheme was above board.

Yesterday, Capital Times reported on the issue and the Johnson campaign had this to say:

Ankney said the amount was calculated using IRS and judicially established compensation models, and has been disclosed to and vetted by the FEC, IRS and Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

Johnson and his staff continue to assert that nothing shady happened, but they refuse to produce any proof that the $10 million payment was agreed to before Johnson dropped $9 million of his own money on his Senate campaign. Until he does, Johnson has a few questions he needs to answer:

  1. When was it decided that his company would pay him a deferred compensation amount of $10 million?
  2. Who made the decision to authorize the agreement?
  3. How was the $10 million figure determined?
  4. If the package was agreed to beforehand why didn’t Johnson disclose the compensation agreement on his Personal Financial Disclosure in mid-2010?
  5. Will he provide copies of the disclosures he allegedly made to the FEC, IRS and Wisconsin Department of Revenue?

 

BACKGROUND
JOHNSON SELF-FUNDED HIS CAMPAIGN WITH NEARLY $9 MILLION IN 2010…

2010: Johnson Loaned His Campaign $8.7 Million. In the 2010 cycle, Johnson loaned his campaign $8,938,465 and was paid back $230,000. [FEC, Ron Johnson For Senate Inc, Accessed 6/16/15]

…AND THEN RECEIVED A $10 MILLION COMPENSATION PACKAGE FROM PACUR

Shortly After The Election, Johnson’s Plastics Company Pacur Paid Him $10 Million In Deferred Compensation. “After dropping nearly $9 million from his own pocket to win a seat in the U.S. Senate, Ron Johnson didn’t have to feel the pain for very long. Johnson’s plastics company paid him $10 million in deferred compensation shortly before he was sworn in as Wisconsin’s junior senator, according to his latest financial disclosure report.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/23/11]

JOHNSON REFUSED TO SAY HOW THE COMPENSATION PACKAGE WAS DETERMINED, AND WHY THE AMOUNT WAS SO SIMILAR TO THE AMOUNT HE GAVE HIS CAMPAIGN

Johnson “Declined To Say How His Oshkosh Firm, Pacur, Came Up With A Figure That So Closely Mirrored The Amount He Personally Put Into His Campaign Fund.” “The first-term Republican declined to say how his Oshkosh firm, Pacur, came up with a figure that so closely mirrored the amount he personally put into his campaign fund. ‘You take a look in terms of what would be a reasonable compensation package, OK?’ Johnson said this week. ‘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.’” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/23/11]

Johnson: “I’ve Complied With All The Disclosure Laws, And I Don’t Have To Explain It Any Further To Someone Like You.” “The first-term Republican declined to say how his Oshkosh firm, Pacur, came up with a figure that so closely mirrored the amount he personally put into his campaign fund. ‘You take a look in terms of what would be a reasonable compensation package, OK?’ Johnson said this week. ‘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.’” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/23/11]

JOHNSON REFUSED TO PRODUCE EVIDENCE THAT THE $10 MILLION IN COMPENSATION WAS AGREED UPON BEFORE HE RAN FOR SENATE…

Johnson Did Not Produce A Written Deferred Compensation Agreement That Was Signed And Dated Before He Launched His Campaign. “So far Johnson has not produced a written deferred compensation agreement that was signed and dated before he launched his campaign. Absent such an agreement, Johnson could face serious charges that he violated campaign-finance laws barring direct corporate funding of federal candidates, election law experts tell TPM.” [Talking Points Memo, 6/28/11]

…AND HE DID NOT DISCLOSE SUCH AN AGREEMENT ON HIS PERSONAL FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE FORM, EVEN THOUGH THE SENATE ETHICS COMMITTEE REQUIRES IT

Johnson’s PFD Covering 2009 – 2010 Did Not Disclose An Agreement With Pacur. [Johnson Personal Financial Disclosure Report, Filed 6/30/10]

The Senate Ethics Committee Instructions On Filing A PFD State That The Form Must Included Any “Agreement Or Arrangement” Regarding “Continuation Of Payments By A Former Employer.” Instructions provided by the Senate Ethics Committee on filing a Personal Financial Disclosure state, “Part 9: Report agreements and arrangements as of the date of filing. […] Describe the agreement or arrangement with appropriate specificity. Include the date (month and year) when the agreement or arrangement was made, with whom the agreement or arrangement was made (the name and title of the official, corporate officer, or principal person responsible for carrying out the terms of the agreement or arrangement), and the type of agreement or arrangement. Provide information regarding any agreements or arrangements you have concerning (1) future employment (including any current arrangement with a publisher to write a book or any portion thereof); (2) a leave of absence during your period of Federal Government service; (3) continuation of payments by a former employer other than the U.S. Government; and/or (4) continuing participation in an employee welfare or benefit plan maintained by a former employer other than the U.S. Government.” [Senate Ethics Committee, Public Financial Disclosure Report For The United States Senate eFD Instructions, Accessed 6/16/15]

ELECTION LAW ATTORNEYS AND GOOD GOVERNMENT GROUPS SAID PROVIDING PROOF OF AN AGREEMENT IS CRITICAL TO PROVE JOHNSON DID NOT BREAK CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS…

Without A Written Agreement, Election Law Experts Said Johnson Could Face Serious Charges That He Violated Campaign-Finance Laws Barring Direct Corporate Funding Of Federal Candidates. “So far Johnson has not produced a written deferred compensation agreement that was signed and dated before he launched his campaign. Absent such an agreement, Johnson could face serious charges that he violated campaign-finance laws barring direct corporate funding of federal candidates, election law experts tell TPM.” [Talking Points Memo, 6/28/11]

…AND EVEN AN FEC SPOKESPERSON SAID HE HAD NEVER HEARD OF A SITUATION LIKE JOHNSON’S

An FEC Spokesperson Said He Had Never Heard Of A Situation Like Johnson’s, Where A Candidate Received Deferred Compensation From His Company After Self-Funding His Campaign. “After dropping nearly $9 million from his own pocket to win a seat in the U.S. Senate, Ron Johnson didn’t have to feel the pain for very long. Johnson’s plastics company paid him $10 million in deferred compensation shortly before he was sworn in as Wisconsin’s junior senator, according to his latest financial disclosure report.  […] Actually, Federal Election Commission spokesman Christian Hilland said the situation is a new one on him, too. Hilland, though, said he couldn’t discuss the Johnson matter in particular. All he could say was it would be illegal for a corporation to donate directly to a candidate or for it to give money to a candidate for the express purpose of reimbursing the individual for campaign loans or contributions.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/23/11]

  • The FEC Spokesperson Said It Would Be Illegal For A Corporation To Give Money To A Candidate To Reimburse The Individual For Campaign Loans Or Contributions. “Actually, Federal Election Commission spokesman Christian Hilland said the situation is a new one on him, too. Hilland, though, said he couldn’t discuss the Johnson matter in particular. All he could say was it would be illegal for a corporation to donate directly to a candidate or for it to give money to a candidate for the express purpose of reimbursing the individual for campaign loans or contributions.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/23/11]
BECAUSE PACUR IS A PRIVATE COMPANY, THE FEC COULD TARGET JOHNSON PERSONALLY

Because Pacur Was A Private Company, The FEC Could Target Him Personally; One Election Law Attorney Noted, “The FEC Has Historically Gone After The Officers Of The Company In These Cases. He Would Be Liable Not As A Candidate, But As A Former Corporate Officer.” “Arent Fox’s Brett Kappel, an election law attorney, said evidence of a written agreement before Johnson ran for the Senate is critical to prove he did not rely on corporate funds for his campaign.  […] The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling enables companies to spend unlimited funds on independent campaign expenditures benefiting candidates, but companies still cannot give directly from their corporate treasuries to federal candidates’ campaigns. If Pacur were a publicly traded company, Johnson would have had to recuse himself from all discussions involving his compensation, deferred or otherwise. But because Pacur is a private company, the Federal Election Commission could target him personally. ‘If he’s the officer…he would have personal liability [for cutting the checks to his campaign from the corporate coffers],’ Kappel added. ‘The FEC has historically gone after the officers of the company in these cases. He would be liable not as a candidate, but as a former corporate officer.’ After his election to the Senate, Johnson handed over control of the company to his brother.” [Talking Points Memo, 6/28/11]

Next Post

Long, Hot GOP Summer in Colorado

Stay Connected


DSCC FRIDAY TAKEAWAYS: REPUBLICANS TRY HEALTH CARE DODGE, GET “MIDTERM PERIL” — DEMOCRATS CHAMPION HEALTHCARE —...

1 day Ago

We’re going to keep reminding working Americans about the GOP’s relentless attacks on #Obamacare. #VoteForCare…...

18 hrs ago on Twitter

Republicans can’t have it both ways. Remind them of this come November 🗳️ #VoteForCare

1 day ago on Facebook

Close

Help Elect a
Democratic Senate


or