According to a recent report in the Wisconsin State Journal by Matthew DeFour, WEDC, the public-private hybrid job creation agency created by Gov. Scott Walker in 2011, in many cases acted irresponsibly in doling out taxpayer monies in order to benefit supporters of Gov. Walkers.

Of course, this should surprise absolutely no one who’s been paying attention to the cronyism that’s taken root in our state since Gov. Walker and his Republican rubber-stamp majorities in the State Senate and State Assembly started running things in 2011.

Even as it developed new systems and overcame early hurdles, WEDC and other top Walker officials pushed for employees to move quickly to approve economic incentives, which sometimes led to costly shortcuts.

In September 2011, just months after WEDC was formed, Department of Administration officials at the direction of Secretary Mike Huebsch pushed the agency to assist a Milwaukee construction company whose owner had made a maximum $10,000 donation to Walker’s campaign. Within a week, WEDC awarded a $500,000 loan but failed to perform a thorough financial review, which should have revealed the firm erroneously reported that it had not been sued in the previous five years.

Emails and records obtained by the State Journal under the state open records law show Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, then WEDC’s vice president for economic and community development, hustled to get the loan out the door, expediting the normal timeline for cutting a check at the urging of a DOA administrator.

Months later, after Huebsch urged Jadin to have WEDC give the company more money to no avail, Hicks-Sorensen was informed by another employee that the company’s owner planned to repay debt to a luxury car-leasing company with state funds. Yet the agency continued for the next year to seek additional public assistance for the company.

The loan, which has not been repaid even after a successful lawsuit against the defunct company, was one of 28 awards totaling $126 million in the agency’s first two years for which there is no record underwriters wrote up a formal financial review, according to an internal report.

Just to sum up, Scott Walker’s “job creation” agency doled out $126 million in taxpayer funds to companies ostensibly to create jobs but with little or no assessment of the risk associated with doling out funds to those companies.

That certainly doesn’t sound very fiscally responsible to me, but maybe Wisconsin’s conservatives have a different definition of fiscally responsible than I do.

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5 Responses to Scott Walker’s WEDC acted politically instead of prudently? Say it ain’t so!

  1. Duane12 says:

    In an article this past weekend, the Wisconsin State Journal stated the total cost of WEDC’s giveaways as a “…willingness to hand out $1.3 billion in economic incentives over four years…”

    http://host.madison.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/ex-wedc-employees-say-politics-haste-tripped-up-job-creation/article_bfbf41c8-da1c-59f7-8a68-b03f61e14d33.html

    So while distribution of $126 million over the first two years of WEDC’s wasteful and inept operation with little or no return on investment reported in the Journal is significant, the taxpayer “ain’t seen nuttin yet!”

    • onevote says:

      Duane12:

      I think you’re right on the money! That huge difference in funding between the $1.3 billion in the first four years and $126 million in the first two years of WEDC’s dismal existence leads you to see that some $1.17+ billion of our taxpayer dollars have gone to corporations in the last two years! That huge increase in the past two years comes in the context of Scott Walker ramping up his Presidential campaign bid for November 2016. What have Wisconsin residents gotten in return for the spending of these tax dollars?!

      Republicans in the past three months seem to realize this, and have made proposals to abolish the Legislative Audit Bureau, as well as eliminating legislators from positions on the WEDC board. All this after Republicans moved to remove Walker as chairman of the board. Seems like they want no oversight over WEDC’s operations, with no possibilty of the WEDC albatross reflecting on WisGOP elected officials in the upcoming year.

      That meeting in early September where the LAB will be able to finally speak publicly about the latest WEDC audit will certainly be a doozy, with far-reaching implications for the political makeup of Wisconsin government. Bring out the truth and let the chips fly where they will!

      • Duane12 says:

        onevote: “Bring out the truth…”

        YES! The incompetence has already been established and acknowledged. Now we need an investigation to determine what, if any, criminality is involved.

        It is not unusual for Incompetence and criminality to coexist.

        • nonquixote says:

          Morning Duane,

          I think we can safely stop calling WEDC incompetent. It is working precisely as it was designed to function. The results are exactly what Walker and the Republicons intended all along. Premeditated theft of public resources.

          • Duane12 says:

            And a good morning to you nonquixote.

            Your claim of Walker’s premeditation has merit and is reflected in Zach’s title, at least in part, for this topic, “Scott Walker’s WEDC acted politically instead of prudently? Say it ain’t so!”

            I wish Megyn Kelly on Fox’s “Laugh-in” the other night had asked a similar question of Scott Walker related to his criminal “premeditated theft of public resources.”

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