Thursday, September 27, 2012

Putting Macco's Business Bravado into Context

Republican John Macco is running against state Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and a major part of his pitch to voters is that he is a businessman.  If Macco is going to constantly make his business background a major issue in this race then it is only proper to fully examine it. Does his actual background live up to his business bravado on the campaign trail?

Politiscoop has already mentioned the fact that Macco's business was the subject of two 2009 lawsuits.  After examining some of the documents in those two cases, I believe that there are additional details that voters should carefully consider.  This information should be contrasted with Macco's various claims about his alleged business acumen.

The first case involves a financial management professional that John Macco apparently hired from the Milwaukee area.  According to court records Macco enticed her to leave her previous firm and start working for his business. In her complaint she states that she brought a number of her clients from the previous firm with her to Macco's company.  She then alleges in court records that she was terminated without cause less than two months after she left her previous firm.  She goes on to allege that she lost clients due to those sudden and unexplained changes and that Macco didn't make good on the benefits that he originally promised her.

Based on the listed court activity for this case, it appears that it went all the way to the point of proposing jury instructions.  Late in the process Macco's attorney filed an "Offer of Judgement" that offered a judgement against him in the amount of $14,001 together with statutory costs.  It is not entirely clear from the case file if the Plaintiff accepted this exact offer but shortly thereafter it seems that the two sides reached some sort of a deal that ended the case and avoided a trial.

It should be noted that during this case John Macco testified in a deposition and there is at least a partial copy of a transcript in the court file.  So lets take a quick aside to look at a few of the more noticeable items in his testimony:

  • At one point John Macco admits that "we've run negative balances since we started."
  • Macco says that he has 3 employees including his own son. (although he keeps bragging about creating 100 jobs on the campaign trail)
  • Macco lists his previous jobs and it appears that he has not worked directly for the family flooring business for approximately 15-17 years. (It appears that his 100 jobs claim is him taking credit for a family business that he doesn't appear to be directly involved in running anymore). 
  • He states in the transcript that his highest level of education is 12th grade. That is perfectly fine but I was a little surprised not to see some kind of business degree from someone that has made his alleged business knowledge such a central issue. 

In 2009 John Macco was sued yet another time. This time it was by a group of individuals that sold him their Milwaukee-based financial management firm.  It was a firm that they spent some 23 years developing and they were at the point where they wanted to sell it to help fund their retirement.

According to the Plaintiffs in the case they sold the financial services franchise for $550,000 with Macco paying $137,500 at the closing of the sale.  According to the complaint in the case Macco was supposed to pay the remaining $412,500 in quarterly payments and provide the plaintiffs with monthly financial reports.

According to the complaint Macco attempted to change the payment terms only a few months after closing the deal.  He allegedly offered the Plaintiffs shares of his own business rather than giving them the scheduled cash payments that remained under the original deal.  The complaint alleges that Macco failed to make the first payment on time and that he also failed to supply the financial information as required. The plaintiffs went on to allege that Macco refused to comply with the agreement as it was written and that he allegedly said that he would no longer perform it unless the Plaintiffs agreed to significantly restructure the payment schedule.

As with the other 2009 lawsuit, an agreement was apparently reached in this case and it didn't end up going to trial.  Obviously I don't know what the terms of that settlement were exactly.  However I do know that John Macco lists the Plaintiffs as being a creditor (more than $50k) on his most recent Statement of Economic Interests filing.

John Macco was confronted with these two cases by his Republican primary opponent and he responded to the charges on the right wing Jerry Bader radio show.  Most of that interview focused on Macco's tax warrant case but he did quickly address the two civil cases referenced here.  In my opinion Macco was very deceptive in his answers to Bader and his listening audience.  He threw in the buzz words "trial lawyers" as if these were merely frivolous lawsuits. But how could the two lawsuits be frivolous given that they were not quickly thrown out by a judge? How could they be frivolous when he proposed and agreed to settlements in the cases and he still lists one of the Plaintiffs as a creditor? That was spin and Bader either didn't know enough or didn't care to press him on it.

The bottom line is that John Macco's business bravado on the campaign trail must be put into a more complete context.  Voters should closely contrast this information with his public pronouncements.  In the end voters must decide what they will tolerate but at the very least they should have more information about this candidate than he himself is apparently willing to give them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

egLiebmann, got Macco's number right on the nailhead. Its all a front with this guy, play the big shot, look at me, is my opinion of him. Living off the ole mans local name.