RoJo’s Fish Story: The Fishing License That Got Away

Fisherman' Story Mirrors Self-Made Entrepreneur Claims

MADISON, Wis. — Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson, appearing on the Charlie Sykes radio show this morning, told listeners he was not a gun owner and instead was “raised as a fisherman.” The multi-millionaire Johnson, does not currently have a $20 yearly fishing license in the state of Wisconsin, according to public records, a fact which mirrors similarly-embellished policy and biographical claims he has made during his campaign for U.S. Senate.

“Looks like Wisconsin caught Ron Johnson in a fish story this big,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross extending his hands about a yard apart. “But whether it’s this, or his self-made business claims, or his calls for extension of the Bush tax cuts for millionaires, it’s one tall tale after another.”

Johnson, who has spent millions of dollars in negative campaign ads in his race against U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, joined Sykes’ show this morning and the topic immediately turned to Johnson and guns. Johnson rationalized that he misspoke about supporting gun licensing, and asserted that while not a hunter, he was an avid angler.

And, you know, Charlie, I’m very up front. I’m very honest. I’m a…I’m not a gun owner. I never have been. My father was a fisherman, so I was raised as a fisherman. I’m a big outdoorsman. And so I inappropriately used the word “license,” in referring to conceal-carry, when I should have said “permit.” And so I’m happy to admit I was wrong. [Sykes Show, 8/13/10, http://www.620wtmj.com/podcasts/charlie_sykes_podcast/100632334.html?video=pop&t=a]

Ross said Johnson’s fishing story wasn’t particularly important, but part of a larger issue of Johnson’s evolving public positions and possible embellishment of his “rags to riches” story. Johnson’s television ads indicate his business skills make him a qualified leader.

Johnson’s website reads, “In 1979, Ron and Jane moved to Wisconsin, where Ron started a business called PACUR with his brother-in-law.” It also says, “PACUR has grown from a company supplying a single customer to the largest producer in the world of a specialty plastic used in medical device packaging and high tech printing applications.” [Johnson campaign website]

The truth about PACUR and Johnson:

  • PACUR was created as an off-shoot of the Curwood plastics company
  • Curwood was founded by Johnson’s father-in-law, Howard Curler
  • Having just moved to Wisconsin, Johnson went to work for PACUR when he was 24-years-old along his brother-in-law, Curler’s son
  • PACUR’s sole client for years was Curwood

“Just because your dad liked to fish does not make you a fisherman, and because your father-in-law built you a business, does not make you an entrepreneur,” said Ross. “And unfortunately, Ron Johnson has fallen for the failed Bush tax cuts for millionaires hook, line and sinker.”

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.