A central tenet of Wisconsin Republican Senate candidate Ron Johnson’s Senate campaign has been his business acumen. Another has been his abhorrence of government handouts for private firms.
But Johnson, who is vying to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, received some flak when it was discovered that the Oshkosh plastics company he owns benefited from a $75,000 government grant in 1979 to help build a railroad line to the factory.
Johnson’s campaign shot back, saying that his company, Pacur, wasn’t even founded until May 1979. One problem, though: the company’s web site said it was founded in 1977.
Then a new twist in the controversy emerged Tuesday when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Pacur’s founding year was changed on the company’s web site to 1979.
Arguments can be made for either year. The company originally started in 1977 under another name by Johnson’s brother-in-law. And according to the candidate’s bio on his campaign web site, Johnson joined the company as a co-owner in 1979, when the business adopted the Pacur name.
Pacur denies that the Johnson campaign pressured the company to update the year on its web site, the Journal Sentinel reported.
But the flap over the actual age of Johnson’s company has been an unwelcome distraction to a campaign that, until now, has been pretty steady in a race that most political experts say is too close to call.