MADISON, Wis. — The synergy between Gov. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and his political fortunes is making headlines again. This time it’s a secret $1.5 million donation to a Walker aligned group from Wisconsin’s richest man before his business snagged $1.8 million in tax credits courtesy of the Walker administration’s WEDC. But One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross pointed to their earlier report, “W is for WEDC,” that found a disproportionate share of WEDC funds went to businesses whose owners and employees made donations to help advance the political aspirations of Gov. Walker as evidence of a pattern of behavior.
“Gov. Walker seems to have gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar, again,” said Ross. “While he’s desperately trying to downplay this latest incident the fact is there pattern of behavior on the part of Walker’s WEDC.”
Among the key findings of the report, “W is for WEDC”, released in May of 2014 were:
- 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.
The creation of the WEDC originated with Gov. Walker, and was touted in by him in 2011 as key to meeting his campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs. Walker and WEDC fell woefully short of the jobs target and Wisconsin remains mired among the worst states in the nation on jobs.
Now after installing himself as chair of the board overseeing the agency, giving himself the power to appoint six other members of the WEDC board and hiring key staff at WEDC Gov. Walker has claimed he is not associated with the WEDC decision to authorize $1.8 million in aid to a wealthy supporter.
Ross concluded, “It would be outrageous enough if this latest instance of a Walker political crony getting state aid were an isolated event. But an analysis of WEDC grants and campaign finance reports suggests that’s not the case. Gov. Walker’s desperate denials he’s not involved in the agency whose board he chairs and whose CEO reports to him is outrageous icing on the scandalous cake he’s baked at WEDC.”
NOTE: A table of campaign contributions to Gov. Walker through October 2014 and the Republican Governors Association through May 2014 from individuals associated with businesses receiving assistance through WEDC is available at http://bit.ly/1FVv1ue.