Democratic-aligned group targets GOP chairman at center of Obama-era probe

Democratic-aligned group targets GOP chairman at center of Obama-era probe
© Greg Nash

A new Democratic-aligned outside group is targeting GOP Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill Second GOP senator to quarantine after exposure to coronavirus GOP-led panel to hear from former official who said Burisma was not a factor in US policy MORE (Wis.), the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairman investigating the Obama administration and Hunter Biden, the son of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Trump expects to nominate woman to replace Ginsburg next week Video of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral MORE.

The Congressional Integrity Project, which launched on Wednesday, accused Johnson of being "more interested in baseless, partisan investigations" than using the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to conduct oversight.

“For too long, members of Congress like Ron Johnson have put their own personal interests before the needs of the American public, covering for Trump’s corruption and ignoring their oversight responsibilities,” said Kyle Herrig, the group's executive director.

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“Sen. Johnson puts covering for Trump and protecting his family's finances ahead of Wisconsin families. It’s no surprise that his personal wealth has likely doubled since he took office. We can’t let this type of corruption and self-dealing continue,” he added.

The group released a report on Johnson, which it said would be a part of a "Covering for Corruption" series, which will include different lawmakers.

A spokesman for Johnson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the group or the report, which focuses on stock sales.

The formation of the group marks the latest escalation by Democrats, who are increasingly targeting the GOP probe.

The group's board includes progressive strategists including Brad Woodhouse and Hayley Matz Meadvin, and staff and advisers will include former members of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and former DNC officials.

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Top congressional Democrats raised eyebrows when they released a letter they had sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting a defensive counterintelligence briefing for all members, saying they were "gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November.”

Democrats pointed to Johnson's investigation — which touches on Hunter Biden, the State Department and Ukraine — as the source of their worry. 

Biden's campaign has also increasingly gone on offense against Johnson.

The effort by Democrats comes as Johnson is ramping up his probe. He conducted his first closed-door deposition last week, and previously told The Hill that he wanted to release an interim report before the start of the August recess.

Johnson and Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Biden says Ginsburg successor should be picked by candidate who wins on Nov. 3 MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, also accused Democrats of leaking information on their investigation in an attempt to undermine it.

"We hope that you will join us in rejecting any and all efforts by foreign entities to interfere in our elections, and refrain from using this issue as a political weapon to target investigations — investigations grounded in fact and that fall squarely within the Committees’ jurisdiction to safeguard our homeland security and financial systems —with which you happen to disagree," they wrote in a joint letter.