I've written before about how plastics industry executives who might be tempted to jump into politics — you know, go to Washington and straighten things out — might want to think twice. Most business executives aren't prepared for the criticism they'd face in the public arena.
Case in point today, once again courtesy of Wisconsin's junior U.S. Senator, Ron Johnson.
In his most recent financial disclosure report, Johnson revealed that Pacur LLC, the sheet extruder he owned before he was elected, paid him $10 million in deferred compensation shortly before he was sworn in.
Daniel Bice, author of the “No Quarter” column in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote about the payment last week. It was clear from Johnson's comments in the column that he was not happy answering questions about the payment.
“You take a look in terms of what would be a reasonable compensation package, OK?” Johnson told Bice. “It's a private business. I've complied with all the disclosure laws, and I don't have to explain it any further to someone like you.”
Johnson's critics are howling, charging that Johnson used almost $9 million of his own money to run for Senate, and now the company has reimbursed him for the effort.
If that was the case, it could be a way around campaign finance laws — although Johnson denies the connection.
The U.S. Senate has got plenty of other millionaires, but few with experience in manufacturing. But for anyone tempted to join him, remember, this is the kind of criticism that politicians — at least on the national level — face every day.