Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Company Johnson Joined Had Earlier Received Government Grant

[Note addendum, clarification and correction below.] Wisconsin's low-visibility US GOP Senator Ron Johnson has thrown together a pre-re-election video entitled "Victims of Government" aimed to look engaged in a job he really doesn't like while energizing his anti-government Tea Party base.

The video is a little red-meat campaign appetizer for the crowd that condemns entitlements, government intervention in markets, picking winners and losers and robotically repeats other bumper-sticker slogans endorsing Grover Norquist's 'death-by-drowning' to a shrunken and intentionally-ineffective government.

In short: Cut The Spending. Restrain The Bureaucrats! Stop The Handouts!

The City of Oshkosh and the US Housing and Urban Development had arranged a grant of $75,000 public dollars to build a rail spur for a plastics business that Johnson subsequently joined:

According to documents from the Oshkosh city clerk's office, an Urban Development Action Grant in the amount of $75,000 was used to build a rail spur to Pacur, a plastics manufacturing company owned by Johnson.

The city resolution approving the grant was passed on March 15, 1979, the year the Oshkosh factory was built.

The money for the line went to Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies, owned by Johnson's brother-in-law, Pat Curler. Months later, WISS changed its name to Pacur and the plant opened.

Thursday, ll:30 a.m. addendum, clarification and correction:

When I wrote this post I had forgotten the history that arose when the rail line financing issue was raised in the 2010 Ron Johnson-Russ Feingold Senate campaign.

So I have rewritten the text and the headline to make them accurate, take responsibility for what I got wrong, and apologize to Johnson and readers.

The original headline had read: "Ron Johnson, Beneficiary Of Government $$ Gift," implying a direct link between Johnson and $75,000 in what is then explained as a grant to a company.

Such an implication is wrong, so I have changed the headline to read "Company Johnson joined had earlier received government grant."

PolitiFact had addressed the issues when they arose during the campaign.

The Feingold campaign had said the rail line financing was a loan, which I correctly said was a grant.

However, Johnson had responded when the issue arose that he had joined the company after the financing was arranged, as the PolitiFact piece had summarized below, and I should have made that clear. My error.

The $75,000 grant is clearly government aid. And the rail line it helped create clearly has helped Pacur from its earliest days. But the grant apparently predated Johnson’s arrival in Oshkosh, and there is no evidence so far -- if more comes to light, we may revisit this ruling -- that Johnson was involved in it.

1 comment:

Boxer said...

You can't have it both ways, James. Either RoJo is "Nobody's Senator" or vigorously running a Victims of Government program.
Although I do view Johnson as an empty suit--and an even emptier hat--I'm going to quibble with you a little over his name, "Nobody's Senator". Kohl was "Nobody's Senator But Yours."
"Nobody's Senator But His" is fitting nomenclature for RoJo.