MADISON, Wis. — A review of campaign finance records by One Wisconsin Now has found that Gov. Walker’s campaign and the Republican Governors Association (RGA) have raked in over $614,000 in donations from individuals associated with businesses receiving tax credits through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Walker serves as chair of the board entrusted with overseeing the operations of the quasi–private WEDC.
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “Gov. Walker touted the creation of this quasi–private agency as key part of his strategy to create jobs. While WEDC has failed to perform as advertised for us, it sure seems to have been a useful tool in his quest for campaign cash.”
The review of campaign finance records revealed that the employees and owners of companies receiving state tax credits authorized by the economic development agency between January of 2011 and March 2013 donated $395,930 to Gov. Walker’s 2010 campaign and through 2012. The Virginia–based Republican Governors Association, that has been extremely active in supporting Walker to the tune of an estimated $5 million in 2010 and $9.5 million in the 2012 recall election, received $218,899 from individuals associated with these same businesses over the same time period.
Since its inception, serious questions have been raised about the lack of accountability and potential for improper dealings by the agency. Many of those fears were realized when an independent audit of the agency revealed millions of dollars in state economic development funds were going untracked, basic business audit and compliance procedures were being ignored and employees were using public funds to purchase items like itunes gift cards, football tickets and alcohol.
In addition under Walker, Wisconsin has consistently been rated as one of the worst states in the nation for job creation and wage growth.
The list of tax credit recipients and their donations to Walker can be found here: http://www.onewisconsinnow.org/files/walkerwedc.pdf
Ross concluded, “Taxpayers have gotten the short end of the stick from Gov. Walker’s scandal plagued WEDC. The agency has ignored basic business practices when it comes to protecting taxpayer dollars and failed miserably in fulfilling its mission of creating jobs. It appears about the only thing Walker’s WEDC has been good for is helping to fill his own campaign coffers.”