The off-road accessory was shipped in a box emblazoned with the logo of an auto parts brand owned by Mike Braun, a multimillionaire businessman who often rails against foreign outsourcing in his bid to become Indiana’s next senator.
The words “Made in China” were stamped across the packaging.
Braun frequently criticizes his opponent, vulnerable red-state Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, for once owning stock in a family business his brother runs that operates a factory in Mexico. However, the Republican nominee’s own parts brand, Promaxx Automotive, sells products that were similarly manufactured abroad, according to a review by The Associated Press.
It has been well documented that Braun’s national auto parts distribution company, Meyer Distributing, ships and sells other companies’ goods that are made outside of the U.S. Such practice doesn’t leave him vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy, he argues, because as a distributor he only resells the parts and has no control over where the companies make them.
But the revelation about the Chinese origin of much of his own products line, which Meyer trademarked with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, draws into question some of Braun’s statements on the campaign trail, where he seldom — if ever — mentions Promaxx.
Braun’s campaign would not say what percentage of Promaxx parts are made in America. Spokesman Josh Kelley issued a statement Thursday suggesting it was a distraction from “Donnelly’s record of profiting from outsourcing.”
When the subject came up during a GOP debate in February, Braun said: “I deal with American manufacturers. We buy their products. I don’t know where they get them made.”
“My business is never involved in anything overseas other than some of the companies that we distribute their products,” he said in December at a GOP breakfast in Bloomington, Indiana.
Indiana Republican Mike Braun, the businessman who is taking on Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) in the state's pivotal Senate election, is pushing back on Democratic attacks on his business record with a new ad that tries to turn the tables and blame Donnelly for outsourcing.
Braun's campaign came out Wednesday with the new television ad, which seizes on last year's report that Donnelly's brother's company operated a factory in Mexico. The ad is meant to push back on attacks Donnelly's campaign leveled earlier this month that sought to tar Braun for his own connection to outsourcing.
“Sen. Donnelly’s manufacturing company outsourced Hoosier jobs to Mexico so they could pay less than $1 an hour. Now he’s trying to cover it up by lying about Mike Braun,” the Braun ad's narrator says in the new spot, obtained exclusively by The Hill.
“Mike has spent his life creating American jobs — only operating in America, only hiring Americans and paying nearly double the minimum wage starting out. 'Mexico Joe' will say anything.”
Donnelly is running for re-election in 2018 against Republican businessman Mike Braun. Republicans see Donnelly’s seat as a potential pickup given that Indiana voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.
The company at the center of the ad is Stewart Superior Corporation, which sells scrapbooking and paper crafting supplies, such as stamps and ink pads, and is owned by Donnelly’s brother, Jack. Stewart Superior is based in California, with an office in England and a manufacturing plant in Indiana.
In 2011, the company opened an additional manufacturing plant in Mexico, according to import records from trade date company Panjiva.
Jack Donnelly’s company operated without much noteriety from 2011 to 2017. Meanwhile, his brother Sen. Joe Donnelly often spoke publicly about stopping the practice of outsourcing jobs. He even proposed the End Outsourcing Act in January 2017. If passed, the measure would require businesses to publicly announce if layoffs were due to outsourcing and to offer tax incentives to businesses who maintain U.S. production.
Things came to a head in July 2017, when the Associated Press reported that Donnelly, vocal critic of outsourcing, owned stock in his brother’s company, which operated a manufacturing plant in Mexico. Critics have used his involvement with Stewart Superior, which is capitalizing on the labor practices that Donnelly criticized, as proof of his hypocrisy.
Donnelly has not been listed as an officer of the company in Indiana business entity reports since 2005. According to a 2006 interview with the South Bend Tribune, Donnelly has not had an active role in the company since 1997. He had previously served as a corporate officer and general counsel for Stewart Superior, and started his own small business, Marking Solutions, Inc.
A month after the AP report, Donnelly sold his stock for $17,410, according to a report by the Indianapolis Business Journal. Will Baskin-Gerwitz, a spokesman for the Donnelly Senate campaign, said Donnelly did not know the company had opened a factory in Mexico until the AP reported it in July.
In a July 2017 radio interview, published after the AP story, Donnelly claimed that his brother had “never outsourced a single job” — meaning Stewart Superior did not lay off workers in the United States to replace them with cheaper labor in Mexico. The Senate Leadership Fund told us that Stewart Superior outsourced jobs whether or not it laid off workers in the United States.
We have to defeat this hypocrite big time. Click here to donate and get involved with Donnelly’s re-election campaign.