Ron Johnson’s PACUR LLC Pays Zero State Income Taxes, But Makes $5,000 Contribution to Republican Governors Association

Are Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Johnson's Political Contributions?

MADISON, Wis. — Ron Johnson’s PACUR LLC made a $5,000 contribution August 18, 2010 to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) political organization, despite the fact PACUR LLC has paid no state income taxes from 1997 to 2008, according to records from the Department of Revenue obtained by One Wisconsin Now and the RGA’s most-recent filing with the Internal Revenue Service.

“Ron Johnson needs to explain immediately how the business he owns that has no state tax burden is able to make a $5,000 contribution to a partisan political organization charged with turning out Republican voters,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “If Johnson’s PACUR LLC doesn’t have taxable assets, how does it have $5,000 to hand over to the Republican political machine?”

One Wisconsin Now obtained tax records for both Johnson and PACUR LLC, which show Johnson had net personal state income tax of $645,092 between 1997-2008, an estimated $9.5 million in earnings. Over the same period of time PACUR LLC had zero net state income taxes. (Figures for 2009 were not available.) [Wisconsin Department of Revenue]

Johnson has regularly criticized the tax system as it relates to businesses and individuals, including appearing at the April 15, 2010 so-called Tea Party anti-tax event at the state capitol in Madison just prior to entering the race for U.S. Senate.

“Ron Johnson will have to explain the scheme by which PACUR LLC is able to make political contributions while paying no state income taxes,” said Ross. “Perhaps Ron Johnson can get out his dry erase board and draw up the complicated tax shelters his accountants crafted in order to shield his business’s assets.”

Johnson’s PACUR LLC contribution appeared on the latest filing of the RGA, made public October 15. The RGA, which raised over $31 million on its latest report, has spent an estimated $3 million to support the campaign of Milwaukee County Executive and Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker. [Internal Revenue Service, Reports of Political Organizations]

RGA raised over $716,000 from Wisconsin, including $360,000 from corporate giving, most notably $266,000 from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. In addition, Walker campaign chair Michael Grebe gave $25,000 and the Robert and Patricia Kern Trust gave $250,000.

In August, Haley Barbour held a $25,000-minimum fundraiser for the RGA in Milwaukee. Aside from Grebe and four separate MMAC contributions, there were only two other corporate donations and two personal donations from Wisconsin at the $25,000 level.

MMAC head Tim Sheehy said in July MMAC served as a conduit for member-directed contributions. According to a news story at the time, MMAC simply passed on donations from a member or members who wanted to give to the Republican effort, Sheehy said.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/28/10]

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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.