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Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir are vying in the Aug. 14, 2018, Republican primary. The winner will take on Baldwin Nov. 6, 2018.
In Baldwin’s ad, released online on July 31, 2018, the narrator asserts:
New reports show Kevin Nicholson made over $1 million advising companies that shut down Wisconsin plants and laid off 1,900 people.
So, Baldwin is portraying Nicholson as being paid big money to play a role in shutting down plants and laying off people.
There is a connection.
But there is less here than meets the eye.
Associated Press story
To back up the narrator’s statement, this headline from an Associated Press news story is shown on the screen: "Nicholson consulted for companies that shed jobs."
The AP said in the story, posted eight days before the launch of the ad, that the story was based on information provided by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge. American Bridge also produced a video that makes an attack on Nicholson similar to the one in the Baldwin ad.
According to the AP article, Nicholson worked as a consultant for companies that laid off nearly 1,900 people since 2015, shutting down plants in Wisconsin and other states as they moved to save money and shift production overseas.
Examples included a company that bought Brillion Iron Works near Green Bay through a subsidiary in September 2016 and two weeks later announced it was shutting down the plant, resulting in a loss of 345 jobs.
To be clear:
The article said Nicholson did consulting for companies that did the layoffs and shutdowns.
But it did not say that Nicholson provided any consulting on those decisions.
The article also said Nicholson has reported being paid $362,417 in salary and $808,180 in fees (which is a total of more than $1.1 million) from 27 clients between January 2016 and November 2017. But the article did not say how much he was paid for the companies that did the layoffs and shutdowns.
All of our fact checks in the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race.
What we don’t know
An executive for ghSMART, the company that employs Nicholson, told us ghSMART helps companies "interview, evaluate and develop their senior leadership" and "has never advised any clients on whether to close a plant or conduct employee layoffs."
And Nicholson’s campaign has reiterated those points, while also going so far in condemning the AP article as to call the reporter a "liberal hack."
But Nicholson and his company have also described their work as being more broad, involving more than merely advising about executive leadership.
The AP pointed out that, according to the ghSMART website, the firm works with companies and investors on "management assessment and organizational change initiatives." Nicholson himself, the AP noted, has said his job involves helping companies design strategies for growth, assisting with mergers and acquisitions, and problem solving. And Nicholson’s campaign has described his work as "helping companies solve their toughest problems."
In short: We simply don’t know what Nicholson may have advised the companies that did layoffs and shutdowns.
Baldwin says: "New reports show Kevin Nicholson made over $1 million advising companies that shut down Wisconsin plants and laid off 1,900 people."
An Associated Press report said Nicholson worked as a consultant for companies that laid off nearly 1,900 people since 2015, shutting down plants in Wisconsin and other states.
And it says Nicholson received more than $1 million for his consulting work between January 2016 and November 2017. But it doesn’t say how much he was paid for consulting for the companies that did layoffs and shutdowns.
In short, Baldwin cites no evidence to show how much money Nicholson was paid consulting for those companies. And we don’t know whether Nicholson’s work had anything to do with the layoffs and the shutdowns. There’s simply no evidence of what he did for those companies.
Baldwin’s statement contains only some element of truth — our definition of Mostly False.
YouTube, Tammy Baldwin TV ad, posted July 31, 2018
Email, Tammy Baldwin campaign spokesman Bryan Lesswing, Aug. 6, 2018
Email, Kevin Nicholson campaign spokeswoman Ronica Cleary, Aug. 3, 2018
Email, ghSMART chief operating officer Jason Fiftal, Aug. 6, 2018
Email, Kevin Nicholson campaign spokesman Brandon Moody, Aug. 3, 2018
Associated Press, "Nicholson consulted for companies that shed jobs," July 20, 2018
WisPolitics.com, Kevin Nicholson campaign news release, Aug. 1, 2018
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