My Name is Ron Johnson, and I Helped Protect Pedophiles in Wisconsin

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) rode into Washington on the wings of the Tea Party movement, made possible by the Koch brothers (Johnson's #1 campaign donor!) and Citizens United. It's well known that Johnson is the Kochs' favorite senator. What isn't so well known is just who Ron Johnson was before he got into the Senate.

A few things lately have reminded me how I first came to know the businessman from Oshkosh. For one, his strange performance while grilling Hillary Clinton at the Benghazi hearings fiasco:


Chris Matthews called it a "pissant performance," adding that Johnson won in a low turnout election. "That guy doesn't represent anybody," Matthews squawked.

However, neither his Koch ties or his poor performances in hearings are the most embarrassing thing about the senator. It's something far more shameful for the state of Wisconsin. This is a pattern of behavior that stretches back generations in our state, allowing child molesters to remain free to this day. And Ron Johnson is part of this pattern.

HBO's documentary Mea Maxima Culpa outlines the pattern of abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church. Importantly, the movie begins and ends in Wisconsin, at a boarding school for dear boys, no less.

The man responsible for abusing over 200 boys at the Milwaukee school was Lawrence Murphy. Despite decades of allegations, Murphy was never prosecuted or even defrocked. The cover-up went all the way to the Vatican, where then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger(now Pope Benedict XVI) was in charge of covering up child sex abuse. Murphy was sent to northern Wisconsin as a direct result. The documentary’s director, Alex Gibney, praised the Pope’s resignation on Monday.

Back to Sen. Johnson ... what could a Protestant from the private sector have to do with the denial of justice to sex offenders?

Well, citizen Ron Johnson sat on the Green Bay Diocese’s financial council until 2010, where he had the ignominious duty of trying to protect accused molesters from prosecution by testifying against the Child Victims Act of Wisconsin.

Why? Well to save the Church money, of course. And to “protect children,” he says. See Johnson’s January 2010 disgusting testimony in front of the Wisconsin State Assembly below:


The Child Victims Act of Wisconsin seeks to allow victims to sue organizations such as the Green Bay Diocese. In 2010, the Nevada Supreme Court denied a request from the Green Bay Diocese to dismiss a case involving John P. Feeney, a now-defrocked Green Bay priest who is accused of abusing a boy 23 years ago after being transferred to Nevada. Feeney is currently in jail after being convicted of abusing boys in Wisconsin.

During the 2010 campaign, I spoke with John Kraus, a spokesperson for former Sen. Russ Feingold's inexplicably losing campaign against Johnson.

"Johnson lobbied against victims of abuse in order to defeat this legislation, period," Kraus said in an email. "In addition, he never asked for transparency (in releasing names of accused priests) when he served on Green Bay Diocese Finance Council. He also never asked for transparency when he lobbied against victims of abuse as a representative of the Green Bay Diocese Finance Council."

Pissant indeed. 

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Joseph Doolen

A science policy writer with professional experience writing in Washington, San Francisco and Madison, Joseph holds an MS in Biology, an MA in Journalism and is pursuing a PhD. For media organizations, he has covered San Francisco Bay Area environmental news, D.C. politics and Wisconsin state news. This year he is writing for Yale, the Obama campaign and covering AAAS in Vancouver. Joseph has done environmental work and science research in Texas and at the flagship universities of Illinois, Wisconsin and Cal-Berkeley.

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