May 30, 2014

Mike Browne, Deputy Director
(608) 444-3483

Who is the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Working For?

W is for WEDC’ Report Finds State Lags in Job Creation While Gov. Walker’s Campaign and Republican Governors Association Reap Millions

MADISON, Wis. — A report released today by One Wisconsin Now analyzing state funds distributed by the quasi-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), created by Gov. Scott Walker, raises serious questions about who is really benefitting. The report found that owners or employees of 30 percent of businesses receiving WEDC assistance contributed to Gov. Walker’s campaign or the Republican Governors Association (RGA). Meanwhile these same businesses received almost 60 percent of WEDC economic development funds — $570 million in total.

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “Cronyism, corruption and incompetence have been hallmarks of Gov. Walker and his administration. Nowhere is that more evident than with his signature economic development initiative, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.”

Among the key findings of the report, “W is for WEDC”, are:

  • Gov. Walker received a more than $1 million direct campaign benefit and $1 million to the RGA from WEDC aid recipients, who in turn received nearly 60 percent of economic development dollars — $570 million of the $975 million distributed.
  • WEDC economic development dollars are not resulting in promised job creation.
  • WEDC fund recipients include companies engaged in health and safety violations, mass layoffs and conflicts of interest.

While Governor Walker’s campaign and his allies at the Republican Governors Association have profited handsomely, his WEDC has come up woefully short in its stated mission of creating jobs for Wisconsin,” said Ross.

A review of campaign finance records for Walker and the Republican Governors Association found that 192 donors associated with businesses receiving WEDC grants donated $1,023,546 directly to Gov. Walker’s campaign. An additional $1,088,256 went to the RGA, which spent $13 million on behalf of Gov. Walker in his 2010 and 2012 elections. In addition, the RGA has spent or reserved $4 million on advertising for Walker in 2014.

Ross concluded, “Gov. Walker claimed his privatized WEDC was imperative for spurring job creation. The question for the people of Wisconsin is: has the reality of WEDC matched the rhetoric of Gov. Walker? By any objective measure, the answer is a resounding no.”

Read the full report at: