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Friday, October 1, 2010

 3:48 PM 

Johnson says abuse bill was laudable but flawed

Ron Johnson says he was briefed extensively on a bill to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual abuse victims right to sue their abusers prior to his testimony before a state Senate committee last year.

Johnson, a Republican, is taking on incumbent Dem U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold.

Johnson has faced pressure this week from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a group representing those abused by priests, after video of his testimony resurfaced. Johnson testified before the committee as a member of the Diocese of Green Bay’s Financial Council. The group wants Johnson to push the diocese to disclose the names of pedophile priests.

Johnson has said he wants the Diocese to provide the "utmost transparency" in answering questions from victims.

“Sexual predators and anybody who would aid and abet them, I want to make sure those folks are prosecuted criminally and I can’t think of a harsh enough penalty,” he told reporters today. “I was just testifying about what the unintended consequences might be of that particular piece of legislation. Laudable goal but a flawed piece of legislation.”

Johnson made the comments today following an address to the Dairy Business Association at the World Dairy Expo in Madison. The DBA has endorsed Johnson.

Asked about the Milk Income Loss Contract program, Johnson said he is in favor of a new ag bill, but said he doesn’t know a lot of the specifics, and said he would be looking for guidance from people like former state legislator Jim Harsdorf, who introduced him at the event. But he said most Americans support safety net programs for farmers.

“I realize the farm economy doesn’t necessarily follow, free market doesn’t work all that well because you have a bumper crop and then the prices will really drop,” Johnson said. “I certainly support things like safety nets, risk management and those types of programs.”

During his stump speech to the group, Johnson said his candidacy was prompted by national health care reform, which he called “the greatest single assault on freedom in my lifetime. It is designed to lead to a government takeover of this health care system.”

Johnson relayed the personal story of his daughter who as a child needed a life-saving heart operation. She was saved because he had the freedom to seek out the best care, Johnson said, something he contends wouldn’t be possible under a “socialized” system.

“First of all take a look at what happens in Canada,” Johnson said to reporters. “There’s a reason the premier of Newfoundland came to America to get his heart surgery. It’s not because that Canadian system is superior.”

Johnson, who owns Oshkosh-based plastics manufacturer Pacur, stressed his insurance plan was the same as every other employee at Pacur, “run-of-the-mill coverage any small- to medium-sized business would have.”

On the war effort, Johnson said he would question policy but not “grandstand or undermine the efforts of our troops.”

“I would not politicize the war,” Johnson said, adding he would work behind the scenes with congressional colleagues and the administration to reach a consensus “so we as a nation could reverse course.”

That said, Johnson said he was concerned about the commitment of the Obama administration to the war effort in Afghanistan.

“I’m concerned about what they define victory, success as. I’m not quite sure what it is. I’m concerned that they’re committed,” he said.

“I’m not privy to all the intelligence,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is, President Obama is and he must see something in the intelligence that prompted him to surge troops … There is no doubt about it that we are under threat of terrorism. And we take that seriously. I’d much rather fight that over there than fight that on the streets here in America.”

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