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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Staff

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was one of several senators who came under fire last week after disclosing that they had sold large amounts of stock just before large swaths of the American economy shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The big picture: Many of Johnson's colleagues should indeed be scrutinized by the SEC and/or the Department of Justice, but Johnson himself hasn't done anything worthy of investigation.

The backdrop: Johnson's job before becoming a U.S. senator was CEO of Pacur, an Oshkosh, Wis.-based plastic sheeting manufacturer that had been founded by his brother-in-law under a different name (and with a different primary product).

  • The pair sold Pacur in 1986 but Johnson remained an employee. In 1997 he bought the company back.
  • Johnson was elected to the Senate in 2010.
  • A source says that Pacur began seeking to sell in early 2019, hiring an investment bank to launch an auction process that would result in bids from multiple private equity firms and strategics.
  • Over the holidays it picked an offer from Gryphon Investors. Papers were formally signed in early January with March 1 set as the closing date.
  • Gryphon's purchase of a majority stake always included Johnson's entire remaining position, which the source says was 5%. It bought the rest of its shares from other Johnson family members, who rolled over some of their stock into a minority stake.

The bottom line: This was a vanilla private equity deal that was negotiated before almost anyone had heard of coronavirus. Johnson, who has said several wrong-headed things about the pandemic, didn't trade on insider information.

Go deeper: Trump signals an economic pivot on coronavirus shutdowns

Go deeper

Latinas who brew seek to shake craft beer industry

A server at Mujeres Brew House in San Diego rings up a customer in front of a selection of craft beers. Photo: Russell Contreras/Axios

Independent craft brewers are popping up in cities across the country, and a small but growing number of them are Latina-owned or run by a Latina head brewer.

The big picture: Latinas are opening up independent craft breweries from California to Colorado as Latina-owned small businesses continue to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the economy despite a lack of venture capital.

51 mins ago - Sports

China pulls Celtics games after Enes Kanter criticizes Xi Jinping

Celtics center Enes Kanter. Photo: Jim Michaud/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

China will no longer stream Boston Celtics games after center Enes Kanter called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "brutal dictator" in a social media post over the Chinese government's repressive policies in Tibet, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Kanter's criticism of Beijing has sparked another round of trouble for the NBA in China, one of its largest and most restrictive markets.