WHO IS Ron Johnson?
Which billionaire’s son-in-law turned senator is up for re-election in Wisconsin? That’s right — Ron Johnson, a man whose involvement in trying to keep former Pres. Donald Trump in power on Jan 6 ‘lasted seconds, ok?’
On Jan 6, 2021, in the lead-up to Congress certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) reportedly helped orchestrate an effort to deliver “alternate” slates of electors from Michigan and Wisconsin to Vice President Mike Pence in an effort to undermine the results of the election and keep President Donald Trump in power.
And then, in a clip that’s been widely circulated since, Johnson faked a phone call to avoid any accountability.
After initially ignoring questions, he did finally admit 2 months later to being involved in the attempted coup — but just for a little bit. “My involvement in that attempt to deliver spanned the course of a couple seconds,” Johnson said. He added, “Again, I had, like, virtually no involvement — literally. My involvement lasted seconds, ok?”
However, after he described his role further, it seems that Johnson’s involvement not only lasted more than a couple seconds, but it was a key moment in the attempted coup of Jan 6.
“I think I fielded three texts and sent two and talked to my chief of staff that somebody wants you to deliver something … In the end, those electors were not delivered because we found out from the vice president’s staff they didn’t want them delivered,” Johnson said. “End of story.”
The delivery of the fake elector list never materialized because the vice president refused to go along with it. Not quite “end of story,” but Johnson seems determined to t downplay the incident and his role in it.
In addition to his interests in overthrowing democracy, Johnson is also a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. In July, Johnson had a radio ad that was supposed to air with the opening line, “The latest mass murder in America didn’t involve guns,” but before the ad could even air, the latest mass murder in America very much involved guns.
According to a report by the Intercept, “When the Highland Park, Illinois, shooting took place on July 4, killing 7 and injuring 46 others, the campaign scrambled to keep the ad from hitting the airwaves.” Throughout his Senate career, Johnson has received support from pro-gun groups in the sum of nearly $1.2 million, the Intercept reports.
While Johnson often touts his work ethic as the reason for all his successes, he conveniently leaves out the whole nepotism part, where he married the daughter of a billionaire and became CEO of a plastic packaging company reportedly propped up by his father-in-law. Johnson later purchased the company.
In 2010, Johnson first ran for Senate.
He defeated and unseated the Democratic incumbent with roughly 52% of the vote and became Wisconsin’s first Republican senator since 1993. Johnson narrowly won re-election in 2016 with the support of individuals like the three wealthy donors who benefited from a provision in Trump’s signature 2017 tax bill that the senator helped push through.
Billionaires Diane Hendricks, along with Dick and Liz Uihlein, coughed up $20 million to groups backing Johnson’s re-election bid. Later, Johnson withheld his vote from Trump’s signature bill unless it could be reworked to include a provision that would benefit businesses like his plastics company and result in fattening the pockets of his wealthy donors, as well as many other folks who have a net worth of what looks like a calculator that’s been left with a button-smashing toddler.
It paid off. Johnson’s request was actioned, he voted for it, and his rich buddies scored $215 million in deductions in 2018 alone, according to ProPublica. The news outlet notes, “At that rate, the cut could deliver more than half a billion in tax savings for Hendricks and the Uihleins over its eight-year life.” In 2022, Johnson confirmed that he, along with his donors, financially benefited from the bill.
And now, in Johnson’s second re-election campaign, those same billionaire donors have already tossed $9.5 million dollars into a super PAC backing him — which some might consider an investment that could pay dividends for America's wealthiest.
Johnson finds himself in a tight race for his third term in the Senate. Early polls showed him down 7 points to Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes, but more recent polling indicates the race might be tightening. If he continues to take a dip, It’ll be interesting to see what his protocol will be on passing off fake votes to himself (now that Pence’s pesky aide isn’t in the way).