Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate Ron Johnson has made opposition to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly referred to as the stimulus, a cornerstone of his campaign. On his campaign website, the candidate brags that he “opposed…the $862 billion stimulus bill. Ron does not believe the federal government is capable of picking ‘winners and losers’ and should not remove capital from the private sector to create more government programs and jobs, which are unsustainable.” He even complained to Politico that “we spent $1 trillion dollars and we got nothing for it.”
Now, the Northwestern has discovered that, in March 2009, Johnson himself sought stimulus dollars for an opera house. While serving as president of the board of the Grand Opera House, Johnson sent an e-mail to 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“:
Ron Johnson, the Republican Senate candidate who has been harshly critical of the Democrat-backed stimulus bill, 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.”
It now appears that Johnson does believe that the “government is capable of picking ‘winners and losers'” — so long as the opera house he was in charge of was got to be a winner. Unfortunately, he did not end up recieving any stimulus funding for his project. As ThinkProgress has previously noted, Johnson’s hypocrisy on government spending runs deep. Despite railing against government subsidies, the candidate received a “$2.5 million industrial revenue bond” that helped him build his company in the 1980’s.