Reality Check: Feingold attacks Johnson payout, minimum wage stance

Reality Check: Feingold attacks Johnson payout, minimum wage stance

MADISON, Wis. - In the race for U.S.Senate, Russ Feingold has been after Sen. Ron Johnson for a payout he received after his first election.

Feingold not only attacks Johnson again on the payout from his plastics company in a new ad but he now ties the issue to the minimum wage.

"You know, $700,000, in the scheme of things, is a pretty reasonable compensation level," the ad plays Johnson saying.

"Ron Johnson paid himself $700,000 a year," an announcer in the ad says. "All told he took a $10 million corporate payout then moved to Washington."

News 3 finds this needs clarification. News 3 looked at this issue in August. Johnson did get a payout from the plastics company he owned following his election to the Senate in 2010. He didn't get it yearly; he got it in a lump sum. For context's sake, it should be pointed out that the quote is edited. Here's what Johnson said last year on the Devil's Advocates radio show.

"I mean guys, take $10 million and divide it by 13 years and no doubt about it that's a good salary," Johnson said.

"Not a half bad living, Ron," one of the radio hosts said.

"It is, but it is a successful company," Johnson said. "Compare that to the CEOs and owner of other plastics companies in the same business. Take a look at Plastics News and you'll see CEOs making millions of dollars. Six million dollars, $9 million. Seven hundred thousand dollars in the scheme of things, and of course it's all relative, is a pretty reasonable compensation level."

Doing the math, dividing $10 million by the 13 years with the company equals $769,230.

"All told he took a $10 million corporate payout then moved to Washington where he fights against even the existence of any federal minimum wage," the ad said.

News 3 finds this also needs clarification. Johnson did once say that there should be no minimum wage, at a luncheon in July 2014.

"What should the federal minimum wage be or should there not be," someone asks Johnson at the luncheon.

"Shouldn't be one," Johnson said. "The only area that I would agree with minimum wage is in immigration reform, the guest worker program."

Johnson said he didn't think there should be a minimum wage, but he's never proposed legislation or made a move to repeal the federal minimum wage in the past.

In a statement, Johnson spokesman Brian Reisinger said, "As someone who has worked for the minimum wage, Ron knows the minimum wage is here to stay and that it is critically important to design our policies to ensure they do not negatively affect the very people they are designed to help."

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