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News Wednesday, May 20 2015

Walker's Corrupt WEDC Gets Savaged in the Press

May 20, 2015

After reports surfaced that Scott Walker was aware of the approval of a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) loan awarded to one of his political donors, the governor’s flagship program has been back in the news this week. Check out some of the crushing clips about the failures of Walker’s taxpayer-backed slush fund:

MSNBC: Scott Walker jobs agency in ‘chaos’ amid calls for federal probe

Four years later, as Walker lays the groundwork for a presidential run, WEDC appears rudderless and deeply troubled. Government and press reports have raised serious questions about the agency’s transparency, effectiveness, political independence and compliance with the law. Walker, who serves as chair of the WEDC board, has twice in recent months announced major shifts to the agency’s structure and mission—and this week he has been forced to deny that he knew about a questionable loan to a political contributor’s company.

Democrats are calling for a federal investigation. Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s job growth continues to lag far behind the nation’s—taking a toll on the governor’s popularity at home.

“There has been a lot of chaos,” State Sen. Julie Lassa, a Democrat and Walker critic who serves on WEDC’s board, said in an interview. “I think that one of the reasons we are lurching from one thing to the next is that the governor is running for president. And he does not have a plan for job creation or economic development.” 

Wisconsin State Journal: Democrats call for federal investigation into questionable WEDC loan deal

“$500,000 in taxpayer funds were wasted by Gov. Walker and his administration on a loan that never should have been granted to a major campaign contributor,” said Barca, a board member of Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. “As a taxpayer and someone who cares deeply about economic development in this state, as a legislator and a board member, I am outraged.”

Barca and Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, who also serves on the WEDC board, called on U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and U.S. Attorneys John Vaudreuil and James Santelle to launch an investigation into missing documents, whether taxpayer dollars were misused, and whether criminal violations may have taken place at WEDC.

Wisconsin State Journal: Company obtained loan from WEDC, unsuccessful elsewhere

As part of Minahan’s quest to secure government funding for Building Committee Inc., he hired two high-powered lobbyists, including Eric Petersen, whose clients donated to Gov. Scott Walker’s 2010 campaign. He and other BCI employees also poured tens of thousands of dollars into the campaigns of key Democrats and Republicans on the state and national levels.

The State Journal reported Sunday that Walker’s top Cabinet official, then-Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, a non-voting member of the WEDC board, pressed for funding for the company, whose owner, Minahan, had donated the maximum $10,000 to Walker’s 2010 campaign.

The company was able to secure taxpayer funding from only one source: a $500,000 loan from Walker’s flagship job-creation agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. The company has not repaid the loan.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: State had sued for tax delinquency firm given unsecured jobs loan

Gov. Scott Walker’s flagship jobs agency in September 2011 gave an unsecured $500,000 loan from taxpayers to a now-defunct company whose owner had been taken to court a year earlier for not paying taxes.

Walker’s top cabinet appointee, then-Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, urged WEDC officials to provide the loan, and Walker’s then-chief of staff, Keith Gilkes, attended an initial meeting on it, according to records provided to the Journal Sentinel by the Walker administration.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Records indicate Scott Walker was copied on letter promising loan to donor

State records say that Gov. Scott Walker received a copy of a 2011 letter pledging a $500,000 taxpayer loan to a now-defunct Milwaukee construction company headed by a Walker donor, seemingly contradicting statements by the governor and his aides that he was not aware of the award.

Jadin said in his letter of intent that he was writing “on behalf of Governor Scott Walker” and noted “cc: Scott Walker, Governor” at the bottom.

Published: May 20, 2015

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