Politics Blog: U.S. Senate candidate Johnson owns thousands in BP stock

2010-07-09T15:07:00Z 2010-09-12T10:37:35Z Politics Blog: U.S. Senate candidate Johnson owns thousands in BP stockBy MARY SPICUZZA mspicuzza@madison.com 608-252-6122 madison.com

U.S. Senate candidate and Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson owns thousands of dollars of stock in BP.

Johnson owns stocks worth between $116,000 and $315,000 in BP, the British petroleum company behind the Gulf oil gusher, according to financial reports filed Friday.

Johnson is one of two Republican candidates running for the seat held by Democratic U.S. Senator Russ Feingold. At a public forum in June, both he and challenger Dave Westlake criticized the federal government's treatment of BP.

Johnson accused the government of circumventing "the rule of law" in its treatment of the oil giant, according to an Associated Press report. And he has said it's not the time to be beating up on oil companies.

"After the worst environmental disaster in American history, Ron Johnson has repeatedly defended big oil saying 'this is not the time to be beating up on those guys,'" John Kraus, Feingold campaign senior strategist, said in a statement. "And now after trying to keep it a secret, it has been revealed that he has significant and direct personal financial interest in British Petroleum, proving without any doubt that he would put big oil profits, and his own financial interests, ahead of Wisconsin."

Johnson's campaign released tax estimates on Thursday showing his adjusted gross income last year was about $1.5 million. And his campaign said Friday that holding BP stock is far from rare.

"Anyone who has a mutual fund most likely has an investment in BP. Ron believes BP must be held fully accountable for its negligence," his campaign manager Juston Johnson said. 

The campaign also said Johnson is entering all of his holdings into a blind trust to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Johnson owns PACUR LLC, a plastics manufacturing company.

Feingold’s disclosure report filed last month lists a mutual fund valued between $50,000 and $100,000.

-The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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