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Ron Johnson’s Refusal To Give A Clear Answer On Outside Spending Pledge No Surprise

Johnson Has Still Never Answered For Questionable 2010 Funding Scheme

Ron Johnson is refusing to give a clear answer regarding Russ Feingold’s proposed “Badger Pledge” to keep shadowy, outside money from dominating Wisconsin’s Senate race. But that’s no surprise considering Ron Johnson already has a shady campaign finance issue that he’s refused to come clean about for the last several years.

In 2010, Johnson famously self-funded his campaign to the tune of $9 million, but shortly after the campaign, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Johnson “didn’t have to feel the pain for very long.” That’s because Johnson employed a shady reimbursement scheme in which his plastics company paid him $10 million in “deferred compensation” just after the election.

Because the money went directly to Johnson immediately after he spent the same chunk of change on the election, Ron Johnson seemingly orchestrated a scenario where his company spent $9 million on his campaign. 

Surely Johnson would have a good explanation for this, right? Wrong. Johnson became defensive and lashed out at the Journal-Sentinel reporter who questioned him about the scheme:

“When asked about why the $10 million payment was so close to the $9 million figure Johnson spent on the campaign, Johnson got a bit testy. ‘You take a look in terms of what would be a reasonable compensation package, OK?’ Johnson told the Journal-Sentinel last 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.’” [Talking Points Memo, 6/28/11]

Johnson attempted to claim that the compensation package was “an agreed-upon amount,” but when pushed for details, Johnson could only offer this childlike response:

“Unlike most deferred package deals, however, it appears that the company had not set aside a specified amount annually that would be paid out when he left the firm. Instead, Johnson said the $10 million payment was ‘an agreed-upon amount’ that was determined at the end of his tenure with the company. Agreed upon with whom? ‘That would be me,’ he said.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/23/11]

Years later, Ron Johnson has still never provided any proof that the scheme was above board.

“Given his spotty history of bending campaign finance rules, it’s no surprise that Ron Johnson is refusing to give a clear answer on Russ Feingold’s proposed Badger Pledge,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “Ron Johnson still has a number of questions looming over his questionable 2010 reimbursement scheme, but the truth is that Ron Johnson will let anyone – whether it’s shadowy, outside groups or his own company – buy his elections for him.”

 

BACKGROUND

JOHNSON LENT $9 MILLION TO HIS CAMPAIGN IN 2010…AND THEN RECEIVED A $10 MILLION COMPENSATION PACKAGE FROM PACUR

Johnson Spent $9 Million Of His Own Money To Win His Senate Seat In 2010. “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.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/23/11]

Shortly After The Election, Johnson’s Plastics Company 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]

Headline: Ron Johnson Defers Himself Enough Compensation To Cover Costly Senate Campaign[Talking Points Memo, 6/24/11]

JOHNSON REFUSED TO PRODUCE EVIDENCE THAT HIS $10 MILLION PAYDAY WAS AGREED UPON BEFORE HE RAN FOR SENATE

Headline: Johnson Has Yet To Produce Written $10M Compensation Agreement [Talking Points Memo, 6/28/11]

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]

Johnson To Reporter: “I Don’t Have To Explain It Any Further To Someone Like You.” “When asked about why the $10 million payment was so close to the $9 million figure Johnson spent on the campaign, Johnson got a bit testy. ‘You take a look in terms of what would be a reasonable compensation package, OK?” Johnson told the Journal-Sentinel last 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.’” [Talking Points Memo, 6/28/11]

Unlike Most Deferred Package Deals, Pacur Had Not Set Aside A Specified Amount Annually That Would Be Paid Out When He Left The Firm. “Unlike most deferred package deals, however, it appears that the company had not set aside a specified amount annually that would be paid out when he left the firm.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/23/11]

Johnson Said The $10 Million Payment Was “An Agreed-Upon Amount” But When Asked Who Agreed On That Number, He Said, “That Would Be Me.” “Unlike most deferred package deals, however, it appears that the company had not set aside a specified amount annually that would be paid out when he left the firm. Instead, Johnson said the $10 million payment was ‘an agreed-upon amount’ that was determined at the end of his tenure with the company. Agreed upon with whom? ‘That would be me,’ he said.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/23/11]

…WHICH ELECTION LAW ATTORNEYS SAY IS CRITICAL TO PROVE HE DID NOT BREAK CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS

Election Law Attorney Said Evidence Of A Deferred Compensation Agreement Written Before Johnson Launched His 2010 Campaign Is Critical To Prove He Did Not Rely On Corporate Funds For His Campaign. “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. ‘It depends on whose money it was,’ Kappel told TPM. ‘If there was a deferred compensation agreement before he ran for office, that would be a legitimate corporate payment [to him personally]. If there was no deferred compensation agreement at all, and the company is paying for his campaign, that would be a problem.’” [Talking Points Memo, 6/28/11]

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