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Groups Push for Greater Accountability for WI Senator

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Wednesday, March 2, 2022   

Members of social-justice organizations gathered outside the Wisconsin State Capitol on Tuesday in an effort to draw attention to allegations of unethical behavior by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who has faced criticism in recent years for endorsing tax laws that benefit him personally.

Miranda Stark, deputy program director for the group Opportunity Wisconsin, said Johnson's personal net worth is 400 times greater than that of the median American household, which the Federal Reserve estimated was less than $122,000 in 2020.

"Now this didn't just happen on its own, and it certainly wasn't because of some smart investing," she said. "Sen. Ron Johnson, time and time again, has prioritized his personal profits over the people of Wisconsin."

Multiple investigations found that in 2017, Johnson pushed for tax breaks that directly benefited not only his personal holdings, but those of his largest donors as well. Johnson has said those measures benefited a wide swath of businesses across the country, spurring economic development and job creation.

However, Stark said the 2017 tax law encourages large companies to leave the state, in part through significantly reducing tax rates on profits brought back from overseas.

Richard Hampton, a former employee of Hufcor, a Janesville-based company which last year announced plans to close its Wisconsin manufacturing plant to move operations to Mexico, said the town has lost many of its jobs in recent years.

"We need jobs there in Janesville," he said. "We're losing all our big companies. We lost General Motors, we lost Lear Seating, now we lost Hufcor."

Based on filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Opportunity Wisconsin calculated that Johnson's estimated net worth at about $48 million in 2020.

Disclosure: Opportunity Wisconsin contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Civic Engagement, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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