Johnson defends BP…could it be because he owns their stock?

While Proud Progressive posted an excellent entry about Ron Johnson’s ownership of BP stock yesterday, I thought I’d add my own take on things, because this is certainly a development that’s worth exploring.

At a candidate forum in Brookfield last month, both Republican U.S. Senate candidates – Dave Westlake and Ron Johnson – took pains to defend BP in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. While Westlake compared the establishment of a $20 billion claims fund to compensate victims of the spill with a “shakedown,” Johnson said BP was negligent in the “ecological travesty” but should have gotten its day in court first. Johnson also noted the Obama Administration was “asleep at the wheel” on Gulf cleanup and playing politics to cover that fact up.

While Johnson’s defense of BP wasn’t really that surprising, we might know more now about why Ron Johnson was so vehement in his defense of BP. As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ron Johnson owns between $116,000 to $315,000 of stock in BP, according to the financial disclosure forms Johnson finally filed on Friday. When asked about Johnson’s ownership of BP stock, officials from his campaign indicated Johnson had no plans to sell his BP stock. They went on to say it was unfair to single out Johnson’s ownership of BP, and in a desperate grasp at straws, they noted that in 2009 the Wisconsin Retirement System had holdings of BP, adding that Feingold is a member of that system.

Obviously Johnson’s direct personal ownership of between $116,000 and $315,000 of BP stock is far different than Sen. Feingold’s indirect ownership through a mutual fund valued between $50,000 and $100,000. Ron Johnson chose to invest his own money in BP stock, while Sen. Feingold has little or no control over how the Wisconsin Retirement System invests its money.


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