As other Republican senators up for re-election in 2016 are boasting million dollar war chests, Senator Ron Johnson is posting dismal fundraising numbers, the latest sign that voters and funders alike are slow to support the Wisconsin Republican who is thought to be the most vulnerable senator heading into the next election.
As of December 31, 2014, the end of most recent FEC fundraising period, Johnson had just $606,000 cash on hand. In an interview with Roll Call earlier this month, Johnson blamed the political climate in Wisconsin for his underwhelming fundraising numbers; however, fellow Wisconsin Republicans Rep. Sean Duffy and Rep. Reid Ribble posted higher cash on hand totals than Johnson, at $674,000 and $803,000 respectively.
The same finance report also shows legal expenses of more than $40,000 for Johnson’s frivolous ObamaCare lawsuit that alleges the senator’s reputation was harmed because of the healthcare law that has expanded health insurance to millions of Americans.
Johnson, a multimillionaire whose wealth came from getting a job at his in-law’s successful plastics corporation, has said he won’t self-fund his reelection campaign.
Last November, Johnson made the claim that he had made a “$9 million investment in this country” when he ran for office in 2010, but said “he gave it once” and didn’t think he should have to 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.
A quick fact check reveals that Johnson 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.”
“If Ron Johnson is going to keep spending his money on ridiculous lawsuits that waste taxpayer time and money, he might actually have to make an investment of his own if he wants to run for re-election, because it doesn’t look like too many others are lining up to fund his campaign,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Tuesday. “The lack of institutional and grassroots support for Johnson’s campaign only confirms his status as the must vulnerable member of the Senate.”