Unlike Burke, Media Gives Ron Johnson's Business & Finance Claims a Free Pass | Wis.Community

Unlike Burke, Media Gives Ron Johnson's Business & Finance Claims a Free Pass

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U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and Mary Burke had similar resumes when they ran for statewide office:  Both had business backgroundsand both had the primary qualification of being wealthy enough to self-finance their own campaigns.

Both also owe their business backgrounds to being hired by the family business, and both got their wealth the old fashioned way... they inherited it.  Burke, through her father (bicycle magnate Richard Burke), and Johnson through his father-in-law (plastics magnate Howard Curler).

Yet, when you read about Mary Burke, nearly every article makes some mention of the fact that she got wealthy because of her father, while there is not a single article that even mentions, in any material way, that Ron Johnson owes 99% of his wealth and fortune to his father-in-law.

In fact, Johnson even inferred (repeatedly) that it was he-- not his father-in-law-- who built his plastics business from the ground up by making subtle claims like, "I built it from the ground-up."  And Johnson's surrogates at the NRSC even claimed that Johnson was a"self-made man."  

The media's reaction?  Crickets, baby.  In fact, Roll Call's David Hawking recently to "self-made multi-millionaires" like... Ron Johnson?   According to Hawking, through Johnson's grit and determination, he, "made a killing in plastics." Humorously, the whole point of the article is that "self-made" rich guys like Ron Johnson have replaced the old guard of rich guys whose whose wealth was "principally because of their inheritance."

But Mary Burke?  Ohhhhhh... with Burke, the media not only referenced her father in every single story, but also made her account for every month she worked for Trek, her exact position each month, and even went so far as to run a poorly-sourced smear story just days before the election saying she was fired from Trek (even though she continued to work there for nine years after her alleged firing).

Ron Johnson, on the other hand, has been able to say pretty much whatever he wants when it comes to "his business" and the media eats it up like communion wafers. 

Ron Johnson claims that while everyone else is importing from China, his company exports to China. Proof? The media will take his word for it.   He claims that he  knows what its like to fight for a sale with competitors in a free market, that he's served as his company's accountant, that he knows all about private health insurance because he paid for the plans for his employees. You name it, Johnson has said it, and the media has printed it, without the slightest pause.

Just the other day, Johnson told another whopper that the media gobbled up and reprinted, when he announced that this time around that he wouldn't be financing his own campaign, saying, “I made my $9 million investment in this country.  I gave it once, I don’t think I should do it again.”  USA Today, for example, reported on Johnson's claim, saying, "When Senator Ron Johnson seeks re-election in 2016, don’t look for the Wisconsin Republican to open his own checkbook this time around."

His checkbook, eh?   

Let's take a moment and unpack all of this.  Ron Johnson's father-in-law, Howard Curler, was the CEO of Bemis, the huge multi-national plastics corporation.  In the late seventies, Ron Johnson married Curler's daughter, Jane.  Shortly after the wedding, Curler hired Johnson to work in his small plastics company called PACUR that he had set up for his son, Pat Curler (PACUR is a shortening of Pat Curler).  PACUR was built right across the street from Bemis and in the first several years was a so-called "captive supplier" --they did all their business with one client:  Bemis. 

In other words, with his left hand, Howard Curler built and paid for PACUR and installed his son Pat to run it, and with his right hand, as CEO of Bemis, Curler provided PACUR with 100% of their business the first several years of their existence.   (In fact, to this day, Bemis remains Pacur's largest customer.) 

In 1986, the Curler family sold PACUR to the multi-national corporation, Bowater, with the apparent agreement that Johnson would stay on as an executive.  In 1997, after driving PACUR into the ground, Johnson and his wife bought PACUR for a small fraction of what Bowater had paid for it a decade earlier, with financing almost certainly underwritten by his wealthy father-in-law, Howard Curler.       

This is the PACUR that Johnson is taking credit for building from the "ground-up."  It's the same PACUR that Johnson claimed to have been the accountant for, in spite of the fact that he never did their taxes.  It's the same PACUR where Johnson says he has personally bought the health insurance for his employees since he arrived at the company in the late seventies, even though he didn't have ownership of the company until 1997.  It's the same PACUR where he says he had to fight in the free market for customers, even though his largest (and sometimes only) customer has always been his father-in-law's company.  It's the same PACUR that claims to export products to China, even though PACUR's quasi-parent company and primary customer, Bemis, imports heavily from China, and has outsourced hundreds of jobs to China. 

And, lest we forget, it is the same PACUR that, with some ham-handed accounting, paid for Ron Johnson's 2010 run for the U.S. Senate:  According Johnson's financial disclosure statements, he got a ten million dollar loan from PACUR prior to the election, turned around and loaned his campaign approximately nine million dollars, and was then given a 10 million dollar disbursement from PACUR a few weeks after the election.    

And yet, all this past week's news was reporting that Ron Johnson won't be "self-financing" in 2016 the way he "self-financed" in 2010.

Can you even imagine the media letting Mary Burke off so easily?

Published

December 6, 2014 - 12:09pm

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