Without a written agreement, Johnson could face charges that he broke the law.

The clearest cut way to judge whether a payment was made irrespective of candidacy was for it to be made before the declaration of candidacy – anything after would raise questions about the payment’s legitimacy.

Because Johnson’s alleged agreement was crafted after the election, it could be considered a corporate contribution to his campaign.

Senator Johnson is under mounting pressure to answer questions around his $10 million payout that likely violated federal election laws. In a bombshell revelation, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today reported that Sen. Johnson’s agreement with Pacur was created after he won the 2010 election. That means the payout was likely a direct payback for the $9 million Johnson had loaned himself during the 2010 campaign. The revelation has serious legal implications for Senator Johnson, making it likely that Johnson violated laws meant to bar corporations from donating directly to federal candidates.

Here’s what you need to know:

Johnson lied about having a written agreement with Pacur for his $10 million golden parachute. He and his campaign repeatedly referred to an “agreed upon” compensation package, going as far as to claim it was “vetted” by three government agencies - implying those agencies signed off. They did not.

  • Politico“Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who poured $9 million into his 2010 campaign, paid himself more than $10 million from the company for which he was a CEO...Johnson’s plastics company, Pacur LLC, paid him as part of a predetermined deferred compensation package, the first-term senator told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.”

Without a written agreement, Johnson could face charges that he broke the law. Election law attorneys and good government groups said that providing proof of an agreement is critical to prove that Johnson did not break the law banning direct corporate funding of candidates. Moreover, it is “highly unusual” for deferred compensation agreements to not be in writing.

  • Talking Points Memo “So far Johnson has not produced a written deferred compensation agreement that was signed and dated before he launched his campaign. Absent such an agreement, Johnson could face serious charges that he violated campaign-finance laws barring direct corporate funding of federal candidates, election law experts tell TPM.”

Any corporate payment to Johnson would have to be made “irrespective of candidacy,” otherwise it would be considered an illegal corporate contribution. The clearest cut way to judge whether a payment was made irrespective of candidacy was for it to be made before the declaration of candidacy – anything after would raise questions about the payment’s legitimacy.

  • Talking Points Memo“Arent Fox's Brett Kappel, an election law attorney, said evidence of a written agreement before Johnson ran for the Senate is critical to prove he did not rely on corporate funds for his campaign...If there was no deferred compensation agreement at all, and the company is paying for his campaign, that would be a problem.’”

Because Johnson’s agreement was crafted after the election, it could be considered a corporate contribution to his campaign. The MJS article today finally reveals that the agreement was created after the election and did not disclose an agreement on his Senate personal financial disclosure.
 

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