MADISON, Wis. — A new report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed that two of Ron Johnson’s campaign donors, who received massive tax breaks as a result of Johnson’s work on the 2017 tax bill, have poured millions into a new Super PAC supporting his campaign.

Key Points: 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bice: Billionaires Diane Hendricks and Uihleins pump $3.5 million into new group backing U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson

  • The three biggest donors with Wisconsin ties — Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, owners of Uline Inc. in Pleasant Prairie, and Diane Hendricks, co-founder of Beloit-based ABC Supply Co. — are giving big bucks to Wisconsin Truth PAC, a new super PAC backing U.S. Ron Johnson.

  • Federal records show that Hendricks gave $2 million to the group in February. Liz Uihlein donated $1 million in March to the political action committee, which is actually based in Houston, Texas, and then Dick Uihlein chipped in $500,000.

  • Formed in February, the conservative super PAC is already out with an ad promoting the reelection efforts of Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican.

  • According to Pro Publica, the Uihleins and Hendricks put some $20 million into groups that backed Johnson’s 2016 reelection campaign.

  • Then, one year later, Wisconsin’s senior senator pushed for a tax break for small businesses and other so-called pass-through entities as part of then-President Donald Trump’s tax cut bill.

  • Johnson recently acknowledged the Oshkosh-based plastics business he owned, Pacur LLC, benefited from the small-business tax provision, though he didn’t say by how much.

  • Pro Publica was able to put a dollar figure on how much the tax break benefited the Uihleins and Hendricks.

  • “The expanded tax break Johnson muscled through netted them $215 million in deductions in 2018 alone, drastically reducing the income they owed taxes on,” Pro Publica reported. “At that rate, the cut could deliver more than half a billion in tax savings for Hendricks and the Uihleins over its eight-year life.”

  • No wonder the trio is again dropping big bucks in support of another term for Johnson.

  • Matthew Rothschild, head of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said their heavy spending tips the electoral scales in favor of some candidates.

  • “This is not good for democracy,” Rothschild said. “The Uihileins and Diane Hendricks are some of the very wealthiest people in Wisconsin, and some of the most rightwing. Now they’re pooling a small fraction of their vast resources to tell Wisconsinites how to vote.”

  • Federal and state filings show the Uihleins donated $74.8 million to GOP candidates and conservative groups around the country in the 2019-20 cycle.

  • That sum included an $800,000 donation to the political fund for Tea Party Patriots, a far-right group that participated in the “March to Save America” rally that preceded the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

  • “The Uihleins and Diane Hendricks seem to think their vast wealth can buy them everything, including political power,” Rothschild said last week.

  • “But that’s not how our system is supposed to work. We all should have an equal voice in the political arena, but they’re going to be drowning out the rest of us.”

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