Friday, May 10, 2019

New chapter in 'Walker, WEDC and The Audacity of Dopes'

A serious review of Walker's WEDC by a fair-minded Attorney General, DA or outside investigator is long overdue.

On Wednesday, in a posting focusing on the FUBAR Foxconn 'deal' that summarized just a few examples of Walker's tainted leadership and WEDC's continual ineptitude, I noted:
And the WEDC [had] a track record of ugly audits, a dizzying, resignation-plagued revolving-door that shuffled CEO's and chief financial officers like a Las Vegas blackjack dealer and allegations of pay-for-play lending.
And such poor administration, decision-making and portfolio management that state legislative Republicans - - let that sink in - - threw Walker out as WEDC chairman, suspended the agency's ability to make new loans - - but humorously left the words "Economic Development: in the agency's title - - and only made WEDC's powers whole again as it was working on the Foxconn deal.
Less than 48 hours later, this in the Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin's economic development corporation gave taxpayer funds to businesses that created jobs in other states, audit finds

The state's economic development agency gave nearly half of a million dollars to one company that cut more jobs than it created and handed out taxpayer funds to others for jobs established in other states, according to a bruising audit released Friday. 
In addition, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. didn't recover more than $400,000 in tax credits and more than $4 million in loans it could have when employers didn't meet the terms of their taxpayer-funded deals. 
These kinds of "bruising audits" have been released by the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau before. I'd called them "ugly." In 2015, the AP referred to that year's example as "scathing."

And media have documented these scandals repeatedly:
Remember those stories about WEDC giving the lion's share of your money to Walker donors, or to businesses who weren't vetted, sent jobs overseas, or never created them?
Like high-end Kestrel airplanes to be assembled in a WEDC-funded factory in Superior that was never built.
Or the time it was discovered that WEDC was in the middle of this:
WEDC backed firm after learning state money was for luxury car debts
Or the reporting by the non-profit Wisconsin Democracy Campaign about WEDC awarding benefits to a company that was laying off workers and moving jobs overseas while executives there were donating to Walker's campaign committee. 

Talk about a bad-policy trifecta:
Republican Gov. Scott Walker has received $7,900 in campaign contributions since the beginning of 2010 from executives of a Menomonee Falls company that plans on moving 93 jobs from Wisconsin to Mexico after it received about $369,000 in state tax breaks to create and retain jobs.
In addition to the 93 layoffs announced last week involving its Watertown factory, Eaton Corp. also laid off 163 employees in April 2013 at its Cooper Power Systems plant in Pewaukee and shifted those jobs to Mexico. Cooper Power Systems is a subsidiary of Eaton, which manufactures power distribution products.
Both of the 2013 and 2015 layoffs occurred after Eaton received $369,307 in job creation and employee training tax credits that were awarded under a Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) contract approved in late 2011 to provide up to $1 million in state tax breaks to Eaton for a research, development and training center that the company opened in Menomonee Falls in 2013.
And don't forget the Walker and his legislative water-carriers kept a tighter grip on this agency for partisan reasons through their lame-duck power grabs, because, you know, a new administration might just begin taking a closer look at the mess there:
Vos: Republicans Might Limit Evers' Power Over WEDC
Move Is 1 Of Several Republicans Are Considering That Would Limit Evers' Power Before He Takes Office
Time's up. This is happening over and over again, in plain sight, with public funds.

Eleventy strikes and you're out. 

Bring in the investigators and close WEDC's wide-open money windows. Now. 


Gma Sue said...

We appear to be weary. We appear to accept the corruption swirling around us at the federal and state levels. This information, while concise, isn't new. We knew it then. We watch Vos, Fitzgerald and cohorts continue to thwart the will of Wisconsin voters. In our faces. They are re-elected. This is NOW.

We watched Trump tell outrageous lies in Green Bay and Ron Johnson, Grothmann and Walker applaud.

We drive down our crumbling roads, give away our Supreme Court seats, and deny health care to our neediest. I don't think we are who we once were, and am not hopeful we can find ourselves ever again.

Peter Felknor said...

You are so right, Gma Sue. We should be rioting when the GOP goes to these lengths to hold onto the power WE THE PEOPLE took away from them. Instead, we meekly acquiesce.

Jake formerly of the LP said...

The problem here is that most of WEDC's funding is directly done through a surcharge that businesses pay, so it's hard to cut them off directly. Some of their tax dollars can be cut off, but not as much as we wish.

But GOPs still want to keep control of this slush fund and its board, so Evers should at least ZERO the tax-funded part when the budget reaches his desk.