MADISON, Wis. — Any doubt campaign politics is the driving force behind Gov. Scott Walker gambling $3 billion on a subsidy for Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn has been dispelled by the creation of a single job. According to a report from Wispolitics.com, the lobbying firm hired by Foxconn has brought on Keith Gilkes, Walker’s longtime campaign manager and the head of the Unintimidated PAC that supported his presidential ambitions, to do “public affairs and communications.”
“Scott Walker’s longtime campaign manager working with the firm lobbying for the state subsidy for Foxconn epitomizes how Scott Walker operates,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “With this guy it’s all about his political ambitions and his next campaign. His scheme to deliver the largest state subsidy to a foreign corporation in history is no different.”
Campaign finance reports for Walker’s gubernatorial campaign show he has paid the consulting firm run by Gilkes nearly $90,000 in just the first six months of 2017. Between Walker’s campaigns and the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Gilkes has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for his work on Walker’s 2010, 2012 and 2014 gubernatorial elections and as the head of the PAC supporting Walker’s failed run for President.
Walker has been on a frenetic, campaign-style tour of the state in recent weeks touting his plan to provide the largest ever state subsidy to a foreign corporation. But Walker’s boosterism doesn’t change the facts of the proposed deal that will have Wisconsin taxpayers sending state tax dollars to subsidize the bottom line of a multi-billion foreign corporation instead of investing in local public schools, roads and bridges or Main Street businesses.
According to information provided by Foxconn and analyses by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the costs to taxpayers will be huge, even under the rosy scenario spun by proponents. The scheme would annually generate $181 million in tax revenue but at an annual cost of $250 million. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau finds the deal will not pay off for a quarter century, at best. In the 2017 budget the deal is projected to cost over $15.6 million and quickly balloon in the 2019 budget to over $522 million. Over the next 15 years the deal would be a net loser of over $1 billion for state taxpayers.
Despite the massive costs to the the state treasury, a bill being considered by the state legislature to implement the deal comes with no guarantee that Wisconsin tax dollars will only go to support Wisconsin jobs. It also fails to include specific clawback language to help the state recover the money it spends on Foxconn if the company fails to deliver on promised investments or jobs.
Ross concluded, “Scott Walker cut a deal with Foxconn with 30 second political ads for his re-election in mind. One of the first jobs being created by the deal going to his top political consultant doesn’t make the deal any better for us, it just makes it easier for him.”