Reality Check: Feingold ad questions Johnson company payout

Wisconsin Senate debate discusses presidential support, paid family leave

In his latest ad, Russ Feingold is trying to raise doubts about Sen. Ron Johnson’s desire to keep his Senate seat based on his finances.

“I’ve always said I’ll be the calmest guy on my election night, I win either way,” the ad shows Johnson saying in an interview.

“If he loses, Sen. Johnson falls back on the $10 million bonus he paid himself as CEO,” an announcer in the ad then says.

News 3 finds this needs clarification.

When Johnson was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, he owned plastics company Pacur in Oshkosh. Upon leaving for his new job, Johnson reported a $10 million “deferred compensation package” from the company in 2011.

Johnson told a reporter it was an “agreed upon amount” for him leaving the company and had nothing to do with the $9 million of his own funds Johnson spent on the 2010 election. The senator does still own a 5 percent stake in Pacur valued at nearly $5 million.

“If he wins, he gets another six years to support tax loopholes and bad trade deals that ship jobs overseas, all to benefit corporations and multimillionaires like him,” the announcer says.

News 3 finds this also needs clarification.

The Feingold campaign points to Johnson’s support of multiple trade deals to support this claim. That includes the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which was a bipartisan trade deal signed into law by President Bill Clinton in the ’90s. Johnson did not vote on that measure, but has expressed support for it. Most nonpartisan studies show wide disagreement over the impact of NAFTA on job losses or gains.

Feingold’s campaign also criticizes Johnson’s vote for Trade Promotion Authority, which was another bipartisan vote on authority President Obama had requested.

On the tax loophole issue, Johnson voted against Democratic efforts to change business tax deductions that they called “loopholes” for outsourcing businesses. Johnson’s campaign called those “legitimate deductions” but said he would like to scrap the tax code for businesses.

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