Ron Johnson sought stimulus funds for Oshkosh Opera House

Back in June, I wrote that during Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson’s tenure as a member of the Oshkosh Opera House Foundation Board of Directors, the Oshkosh Grand Opera House received a $500,000 earmark in the 2009 state budget, a budget that started with a $6.6 billion deficit over the two years of the budget. At the time I wondered what Johnson’s position on earmarks was, considering the fact that Johnson has made it abundantly clear during his Senate campaign that he thinks government spends too much money, but I was never able to get a clear answer on whether or not Johnson supported earmarks like the one the Oshkosh Grand Opera House received.

However, the $500,000 earmark the Oshkosh Grand Opera House received in the most recent state budget was only the tip of the government handout iceberg for Ron Johnson and the Oshkosh Grand Opera House, as Johnson himself sought stimulus funds for renovations to the Grand Opera House when he was president of the Grand’s board in March 2009:

In an e-mail obtained by the Northwestern, Johnson called Oshkosh Area Community Foundation CEO Eileen Connolly-Keesler to ask about the availability of stimulus dollars to help fund the $1.8 million repair project. Connolly-Keesler sent an e-mail to state Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, to see what funds might be available for the project.

“I just got a call from Ron Johnson about the Grand and stimulus money,” Connolly-Keesler wrote in a March 25, 2009, e-mail. “I can’t imagine it will pay for non-profit buildings but I am willing to make some calls if you think it would work.”

During his campaign, Ron johnson has made it abundantly clear that he’s no fan of the stimulus bill, and he’s made it clear he wants to cut the amount of money the government spends, so I can’t help but wonder why Ron Johnson lobbied for stimulus funds for the Oshkosh Grand Opera House back in 2009 if the stimulus was really such a bad idea. Then again, I suppose no one should be surprised Ron Johnson supported the stimulus before he was against, given the fact that Johnson was for government handouts to businesses before he was against it.

Once again, Ron Johnson has shown he’s perfectly willing to flip-flop on an issue when it’s politically expedient, demonstrating that no matter how hard he tries to convince voters he’ll be a “citizen legislator,” he’s mastered the art of political doublespeak better than most career politicians.


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12 thoughts on “Ron Johnson sought stimulus funds for Oshkosh Opera House

    1. kent, what I’m sad to see is that you just can’t focus on the topic at hand. I get it; you want to see Sen. Feingold lose in November.

      However, if you’re not going to contribute anything to the dialog beyond posting links to Rasmussen polls, then post that stuff in one of our open threads.

  1. If you have ever been on a board, you would understand that the entity’s best interest is paramount. Johnson did not create the (wasteful) pool of money; however, he had an obligation to seek available funds if they were needed by the entity he had a duty to care for.

    1. Ah….so in other words, you’re okay with Ron Johnson sacrificing his principles in order to get a government handout.

      Sounds very principled.

      1. I wouldn’t have any issue with it if he simply said, I don’t believe in these things personally but to protect the stakeholders in my company and the opera house, we took advantage of a variety of government programs that made economic sense for us. Of course the constituency that he is making his appeal to doesn’t have an understanding of nuance nor do they discern the gray tundra between their black and white extremes.

      2. I think we could have a very interesting discussion on what to do when your responsibilities to others conflict with your personal principles. And what to do when your principles conflict with pragmatism the way the can often do in the real world. I’d love to participate in such a discussion (and when I posed the question a few days ago about how I struggle with what to do in closed, partisan primaries.

        But this isn’t that. It’s sniping & the gotcha game to come up with whatever you can against someone who you’ve already made your mind up about.

  2. Locke describes the principles at this blog.

    The election has little to do with decisions Johnson made on a board over available monies and much to do with decisions Russ Feingold made as a member of Congress for over 20 years.

  3. That evil evil man. How dare he serve on a non profit board. You liberals are truly comical to watch.

  4. He made a phone call and thats lobbying ? But you look the other way when Fiengold earmarks money for Indian Tribal Vocational Programs of $7,773,000. Seems like he did very well in the heavy indian counties or he really would have been slaughtered, and with all that Doyal gave to them, no wonder the votes seem to mirror themselves.

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