MADISON - Organizers of a Cards Against Humanity stunt involving the shipment of more than 2,000 potatoes to Sen. Ron Johnson are finding the joke's on them.
In recent weeks, the board game maker has been sending potatoes, each bearing the message "Hold a Town Hall," to the Wisconsin Republican. The company collected $5 from individuals who wanted to "sponsor" a potato with the message.
The deliveries were staged in waves, starting with only a handful of potatoes, and then increasingly large amounts, said Melissa Harris, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based company.
The big moment was to come early this week, when a load of 1,857 potatoes was to be delivered at Johnson's office at 517 E. Wisconsin Ave. Cards Against Humanity had a staffer ready to alert the media for photos when the delivery truck pulled up.
One problem: Someone from Johnson's office picked up the mail on Saturday, according to the postal service tracking order. And that included the potatoes which were trucked to Milwaukee in a postal service van.
"We don't really know where they are," Harris said. "Someone went to great lengths to pick up those potatoes."
Monday afternoon Johnson said the potatoes would be donated to food banks through Greater Praise Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee. Johnson's staff and the church have combined for the Joseph Project, which links inner-city workers from Milwaukee with businesses in other areas.
"My suggestion was, rather than spending $5 on a 37 cent potato, donate that $5 to a food pantry. A far better use of your money," Johnson said.
Makers of the board game decided to prank Johnson with the potatoes after learning that he was not holding town hall meetings.
Why potatoes? "Because it's funny," Harris said.
In all, 2,059 spuds were sent to the senator, Harris said.
Since President Donald Trump's election, Johnson and some other Republican federal lawmakers have avoided traditional in-person town halls in their home districts as backlash from constituents who don't agree with Trump has intensified.
“Senator Johnson continues to travel the state extensively to talk with Wisconsinites about their concerns, and we’re happy to work with local food pantries to ensure all potatoes go to help those in need," Voelkel said in an email Monday afternoon.
It's not the first time Cards Against Humanity has launched unusual mailing campaigns. The company recently sent board games about Adolf Hitler to U.S. senators. And back in 2014, it allowed people to buy and ship boxes of bull feces to poke fun at holiday consumerism.
"You can think of us as a game company and you can think of us as a comedy company," Harris said. "We have achieved our mission because so much attention has been given to this."
Johnson said that "at the right time," he'll host traditional town hall meetings.
"Where we know it's being respectful," he said. "Right now we're holding events Chamber-sponsored, Rotary-sponsored, I'm getting bipartisan crowds."