MILWAUKEE (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson told backers at a recent event in Wisconsin that his plastics company benefitted from a key provision he pushed for in former President Donald Trump’s tax bill in 2017, addressing a line of attack being made against him during his reelection bid.
Johnson made the comments in reaction to a question from an audience member at an event Friday in Medford, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday.
Johnson said that his company, Pacur LLC, some of his prominent donors and many other businesses benefitted from the small-business tax provision.
“Now, did my business benefit? Sure. Did some of my donor businesses? Sure. When you give tax relief to everybody, everybody benefits,” Johnson said. The Journal Sentinel posted audio of the interaction.
“So they want to make it sound like I carved out some loophole for a couple of people,” Johnson said in reference to attack ads on the issue. “What I did is I made sure that 95% of American businesses weren’t left behind in tax reform. I’m really proud of that achievement.”
Johnson is seeking a third term in November. Nearly a dozen Democrats are running for a chance to take him on in a seat that could determine majority control of the Senate.
ProPublica reported in August that the tax break Johnson championed resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in deductions to megadonors who funded his campaigns.
Johnson’s campaign spokesman, Jake Wilkins, said the audio “is exactly what Senator Johnson has said in public and private for years.”
“Despite strong opposition, he secured tax relief for more than 90% of U.S. businesses who benefited from it after it became law,” Wilkins said. “It is a gross distortion to imply his tax cuts were a special deal for a few. His tax cuts benefited the many.”
Johnson, in his comments at the Friday meeting, criticized the “distorted attack ads” that have run against him.
“They said I doubled my wealth,” he said. “That’s true.”
Johnson explained that after he got elected in 2010, he took all of his “marketable securities” and placed them in cash so that he would have no conflicts.
He said the reason his wealth doubled is that he sold his business.
“I sat on cash,” he said. “I’m still sitting on cash. I knew during the COVID recession that this was a good time to invest in the stock market. I didn’t. I stayed invested in, I’ve just got cash, OK.”
He added: “I’m not asking anybody to feel sorry for me.”