Transparency and Gov. Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Don’t Go Together

Latest Revelations Show Cronyism, Corruption and Incompetence Sure Do

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Walker is in the hot seat over revelations that his top aides successfully lobbied for a risky state loan to the business of a major Walker campaign donor through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), chaired by Walker. One Wisconsin Now’s open records request filed a year ago, seeking correspondence between Walker and his staff and WEDC about businesses whose owners and employees made campaign contributions and received state help, might have brought other instances to light but Gov. Walker’s office refused to fulfill the request.

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “We’ve come to learn that transparency and Gov. Walker’s WEDC are not things that go together. But as another instance of WEDC doling out our tax dollars to a contributor to Gov. Walker’s campaign comes to light we can see cronyism, corruption and incompetence sure do.”

Recent reports have detailed how top Walker aides met with and succeeded in getting WEDC to issue a risky $500,000 loan to a business owned by one of 32 donors who gave $10,000, the maximum allowed by law, to Walker’s 2010 campaign for Governor. The business went under and the loan was never repaid. Subsequent investigations have shown basic safeguards for issuing loans were ignored and supporting documents were riddled with false or incomplete information.

An analysis of WEDC grants and loans by One Wisconsin Now released in 2014 found that a disproportionate share of state economic assistance was going to businesses whose owners and employees donated to Gov. Walker’s campaign. One Wisconsin Now followed up with a request seeking correspondence between Walker’s office and WEDC regarding specific companies and donors. Walker’s legal counsel replied that the administration would refuse to fulfill the request as submitted.

“It’s time for Gov. Walker to come home and come clean about what’s been going on at WEDC. And it’s time for the Republican majority in the state legislature to stop covering for him as he runs for president and start demanding answers and accountability,” concluded Ross.

One Wisconsin Now’s original open records request and Gov. Walker’s denial letter are available here and here.

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