Democratic Party of Wisconsin criticizes Johnson, claiming he got job because of federal grant

Friday, September 24, 2010

Democrats criticize Johnson for federal grant

MILWAUKEE — The Democratic Party of Wisconsin called Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson a hypocrite on Thursday for criticizing the federal stimulus bill, claiming a federal grant may have helped him get his job.

Ron Johnson’s campaign wouldn’t respond to the accuracy of the criticism, saying it was up to the state Democratic Party to prove he was hired with the grant money.

Johnson has made railing against the stimulus key to his campaign to unseat Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold, arguing it represents wasteful government spending at its worst. Johnson recently released a television ad critical of Feingold for voting for key parts of the stimulus.

On Johnson’s campaign website it explains his opposition to the stimulus, saying, “Ron does not believe the federal government is capable of picking ‘winners and losers’ and should not remove capital from the private sector to create more government programs and jobs, which are unsustainable.”

The state Democratic Party released the paperwork for a $75,000 federal grant that was approved in March 1979 that required the Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies in Oshkosh to create 11 jobs in exchange for building a rail spur to the company.

Party chairman Mike Tate claims it had to have been used to hire Johnson, who started as an accountant and machine operator in August 1979 after the company changed its name to Pacur.

“This is a guy that says government doesn’t have a role in helping to create jobs,” Tate said. “His own job was created with the help of the government. This is about hypocrisy and why won’t Ron Johnson just come clean with the voters of Wisconsin and admit to this, instead of dodging and weaving and trying to claim that’s not the case.”

Johnson’s spokeswoman, Sara Sendek, said Johnson knew nothing about the grant that went to the city of Oshkosh.

“Sen. Feingold and his Democrat allies should stop wasting their time talking about jobs from more than three decades ago and start focusing on creating jobs for Wisconsinites today,” she said.

But she also said, “Ron is not anti-government — he understands the government builds roads and provides infrastructure that allows businesses to grow and compete in the global economy.”

Tate said Johnson had to know about the money.

“Ron Johnson can’t credibly argue that as the company’s accountant he knew nothing about a $75,000 grant to build a rail spur when the work wasn’t finished for months until after he started,” Tate said.

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