The Associated Press ran analysis on Sen. Russ Feingold’s latest television ad, which claims that Republican candidate Ron Johnson’s plastics company, Pacur, received taxpayer-funded government loans, and includes a sound bite of Johnson saying “I have never lobbied for some special treatment or for a government payment.” The verdict:
The ad refers to loans that Johnson’s plastics company received in the 1980s. Pacur LLC, the Oshkosh-based company of which Johnson is president, received $4 million in low-interest loans made possible through a government program.
One newscaster in the ad refers to the money as a government loan, and two of the headlines call it government aid.
The references are misleading [because] they suggest the money came from the government and, by extension, taxpayers. But all the money came from private investors. (emphasis added)
Feingold’s campaign defended the ad:
Campaign spokesman John Kraus said the loan wouldn’t have been possible without substantial government involvement, meaning it’s accurate to call the money a government loan.
Weak. Going back to my original piece on the negative turn Feingold’s campaign has taken:
So much for item two on Feingold’s 2004 Clean Campaign Pledge: “to refrain from distorting or misrepresenting an opponent’s positions or record.” Or the preamble to that document, which asserted that “the people of Wisconsin are not served by negative campaigns.”
Wisconsin holds primaries today. Johnson is expected to win the nomination, but in reality this campaign battle is just getting started. If the past few weeks are any indication, things could get ugly.