Reality Check: 3rd-party group claims on Johnson need clarification

Reality Check: 3rd-party group claims on Johnson need clarification

MADISON, Wis. - Two third-party groups are teaming up on an ad in the closing days of the Senate campaign to attack Sen. Ron Johnson.

The ad is a greatest hits of claims News 3 has covered this year against Johnson, some of which need clarification.

First, you should know it is two groups paying some $2 million combined to run the ad across the state -- LCV Victory Fund and Senate Majority PAC.

The first group is an arm of the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group that has largely supported Democrats. The group's two single biggest donors are the co-founder of Facebook Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna, who have spent $20 million this year to help Democrats.

Senate Majority PAC is the primary group working to try to regain the majority in the U.S. Senate. It is backed by several multi-million dollar mega-donors, including George Soros and a Chicago owner of alternative newspapers.

"An economy rigged for the wealthy and Ron Johnson would make it worse," the ad begins. "Johnson took a shady $10 million corporate payout and went to Washington."

News 3 finds it's true that Johnson got a nearly $10 million payout from his plastics company when he was elected in 2010. He said it was a "deferred compensation package" and has nothing to do with the $9 million of his own money he spent on his election.

"[He] voted to protect corporate tax loopholes for companies sending Wisconsin jobs overseas," the ad continues.

News 3 finds this needs clarification. The groups point to a number of procedural votes (104, 94, 249, 27, 181) on Democratic measures to change business tax deductions. Those deductions can be used for outsourcing jobs but also other business expenses. Johnson's campaign has called them "legitimate deductions" but has said he'd like to "scrap" the tax code for businesses.

"[He] supported privatizing Social Security, which would have sent millions to Wall Street," the ad says.

News 3 finds it's true that Johnson has voiced support for privatization of Social Security in the past, although not "mandatory privatization." Now, his support is not as clear. Johnson's campaign recently wouldn't say whether he'd support it -- instead saying he'll consider "any serious proposal" on the issue.

"[He] wants to eliminate the federal minimum wage," the ad says.

News 3 finds this also needs clarification. Johnson said in 2014 there shouldn't be a minimum wage. His campaign now says he knows it is "here to stay."

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