Close

#TBT: Ron Johnson’s Shady Campaign Finance History

As Ron Johnson continues his refusal to give a clear answer regarding Russ Feingold’s proposed “Badger Pledge” to keep shadowy, outside money from dominating Wisconsin’s Senate race, today’s #TBT reminds us that Johnson’s shady campaign finance history goes all the way back to a questionable funding scheme during his 2010 campaign.

Johnson famously self-funded his campaign with $9 million in 2010, but shortly after the campaign, he employed a shady reimbursement scheme and was paid $10 million by his plastics company in “deferred compensation” just after the election.

Not only did Johnson appear to orchestrate a scenario where his company spent $9 million on his campaign, but he has also refused to answer questions about the seemingly problematic arrangement. Johnson has refused to provide any details about how the compensation package came to be, and has quickly gotten defensive and testy when asked about the arrangement. 

“For years Ron Johnson has dodged questions about his shady funding scheme that he employed in 2010, so it’s hardly a surprise that he’s refusing to answer about the proposed outside money pledge in Wisconsin,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “Johnson may think that he can dodge tough questions by avoiding the subject of campaign finance altogether, but the questions looming over his problematic 2010 funding scheme won’t disappear anytime soon.”

 

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

…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

Ron Johnson Continues To Dodge On Outside Spending Pledge


Fatal error: Uncaught exception 'Facebook\FacebookThrottleException' with message '(#4) Application request limit reached' in /nas/content/live/dscc/wp-content/themes/wideeyecreative/includes/features/grabfeeds/includes/facebook-php-sdk-v4-4.0-dev/src/Facebook/FacebookRequestException.php:117 Stack trace: #0 /nas/content/live/dscc/wp-content/themes/wideeyecreative/includes/features/grabfeeds/includes/facebook-php-sdk-v4-4.0-dev/src/Facebook/FacebookRequest.php(280): Facebook\FacebookRequestException::create('{"error":{"mess...', Object(stdClass), 403) #1 /nas/content/live/dscc/wp-content/themes/wideeyecreative/includes/features/grabfeeds/includes/feeds.php(55): Facebook\FacebookRequest->execute() #2 /nas/content/live/dscc/wp-content/themes/wideeyecreative/includes/features/grabfeeds/load.php(16): require_once('/nas/content/li...') #3 /nas/content/live/dscc/wp-content/themes/wideeyecreative/includes/slices/update.php(3): get_feeds() #4 /nas/content/live/dscc/wp-content/themes/wideeyecreative/includes/boilerplate.php(37): i in /nas/content/live/dscc/wp-content/themes/wideeyecreative/includes/features/grabfeeds/includes/facebook-php-sdk-v4-4.0-dev/src/Facebook/FacebookRequestException.php on line 117