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Kenosha Highlights Ron Johnson’s Belief in Conspiracy Theories & Ties to Far-Right Extremists

Sep 3, 2020

From Downplaying COVID-19 to Pushing Racist Conspiracy Theories, Johnson Continues To Side With Extremists

Washington, D.C. – In recent days, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has been standing at the forefront of the national conversation around the protests in Kenosha: right next to President Trump, using tragedy to score cheap political points. He even falsely claimed that Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes “participated in rallies that have done more to incite than calm the situation” in Kenosha. This pattern is nothing new for Sen. Johnson, who has pushed racist conspiracy theories and associated with political extremists throughout his career. 

Here are the top examples of how Johnson has elevated these unseemly elements.

 Johnson’s refusal to condemn recent white supremacist violence in his home state follows a pattern of pushing racist conspiracy theories.

  • Johnson refused to condemn the murders in Kenosha by Kyle Rittenhouse. (Capital Times, 9/1/20)
  • Johnson compared the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of religion to a “suicide pact” when discussing Islam. (Foreign Policy, 6/15/17)
  • Senator Johnson claimed that ISIS infecting themselves with Ebola to attack the United States was a “real and present danger.” (Buzzfeed, 10/16/14)

 Johnson has downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic and pushed for treatments that don’t work.

  • Johnson said COVID-19 wasn’t much worse than the Flu. (Daily Beast, 8/3/20)
  • Johnson aggressively pushed the use of hydroxychloroquine despite the lack of evidence that it effectively treats COVID-19. (Daily Beast, 8/3/20)

As the powerful chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Johnson has refused to hold extremists accountable.

  • His committee held a hearing on white supremacist violence for the first time in September, 2019. (Senator Peters Opening Statement, 9/25/19)
  • Johnson’s office declined to comment when asked if they would hold a hearing on right-wing extremism. (Foreign Policy, 6/15/17)
  • Johnson gave Trump “slack” for his initial statements in response to Charlottesville calling violent white supremacists “very fine people.” (Associated Press, 8/15/17)
  • Johnson dutifully pushes conspiracy theories that Trump hopes will help his re-election, saying he doesn’t even trust the U.S intelligence community. (New York Magazine, 10/6/19)

Johnson has a long history of associating with extremists.

  • Johnson spoke at a rally with Wisconsin Family Action, a conservative group that worked to ban gay marriage. (Associated Press, 6/9/19)

In 2012, Johnson received a 100 percent rating from ACT For America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designated as a hate group (Votesmart, 9/1/20)

For more information on the Congressional Integrity Project’s work visit: For the latest updates, follow @USIntegrityProj on Twitter.