Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ron Johnson and the Oshkosh Tea Party

There's a "getting to know you" piece on Ron Johnson in the Journal-Sentinel this weekend that contains an interesting aside:
Contrary to reports in the media, Johnson said, he did not start a tea party chapter in Oshkosh. He simply accepted an invitation to speak.
Taken literally this statement is true, but it's also way too carefully worded to just be glossed over.

First things first: there is not an active tea party-affiliated organization in Oshkosh and there really never was one. Unlike many of the other tea party groups around the state, there really wasn't ever a "chapter" established in Oshkosh for doing any long term political organizing. The Oshkosh tea party was really just an event (and a pretty crazy event at that).

So, yes, Johnson did not actually start a tea party "chapter" here in Oshkosh ... but a more interesting question would be who the hell paid for the Oshkosh tea party?

Tea Parties don't just materialize out of thin air: they take money to throw. PA systems need to be rented, t-shirts need to be printed, and Mr. The Plumber sure as hell isn't going to come to Oshkosh, WI without a plane ticket, accommodations and a speaking fee. There's also the small matter of finding a dais:

That's Johnson speaking at the Oshkosh tea party last October. Local readers will recognize the Ganther Construction logos prominently displayed all over the podium. I mean, it kinda looks like the business is almost sponsoring the event, doesn't it?

Ben Ganther is a local construction magnate and good friend of Johnson's. They're both successful businessmen, well-known in the community and several years ago started a local political action committee together, Forward Oshkosh PAC, the main purpose of which seemed to be advancing TABOR on a local level.

One could reasonably assume that Ganther and Johnson probably had a significant hand in funding the event. Unfortunately, there's really no way to independently verify this because the same kind of financial disclosure laws that apply to lobbyists, PACs, political parties and candidates apparently don't apply to tea parties. This will have to be something a real journalist would have to ask the Johnson campaign (... a-hem).

No one "just gets ask to speak" at events like these. I can't imagine a collection plate was passed around during the festivities, the receipts from which managed to offset the costs. If Johnson's willing to shell out $10-15 million on a senate campaign, then footing the bill for a tea party would have been peanuts by comparison.


Anonymous said...

Seems like he's just splitting hairs. He's obviously a Tea Party Tool no matter what his actual "job title" at the Osh Tea Party was. Aside form the typical blogger's thrill at catching a guy in a lie (and SO rare these days, eh?) does it matter? He's a teabagger, that's all that maters to either side right?
(btw the financial disclosure etc rules should apply equally to Tea Party groups, I hope people who can do something about that get on it ASAP)

anyway as to whether or not he actually visits "every corner of the state"- meh, we'll see. Not too many ever step out of the same old same old Comfort Zone Areas. Not that I wanna see his nasty ass, I just figure he's lyin' about that too.

CJ said...

Maybe it's the same tow businessmen who paid for the crazy billboard on Hay 41. (G & J?) Hmmm...

Well, if we really want to know, someone will have to request a copy of the even permit from city hall and see who requested the application.