Republicans in state Senate vote to give over $217,000 in taxpayer money to GOP donor

As reported by the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, on Tuesday the Wisconsin state Senate voted to pay $217,499 in taxpayer dollars to a Hudson steel company whose CEO donated to Sheila Harsdorf, the very same Republican state senator who introduced the bill to provide the money.

J & L Steel and Electrical Services said it was owed the money for expenses related to a dispute over bid requirements for installing a visual new nurse call system at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in Chippewa Falls in 2011.

The bid called for a specific system to be installed. The state Department of Administration did not approve an alternate system J & L Steel used as a basis for its bid. The company said the state was interpreting the bid incorrectly. Its claim is based on increased bidding costs, witness fees, and attorneys’ fees incurred as a result of the state’s interpretation.

The state DOA rejected the claim. On a 2-2 vote in May, the claims board concurred and said the company should take its case to court.

Instead, Republican Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, took the unusual step of introducing a bill to pay the company despite the claims board decision.

According to the report in the Pioneer Press, J & L Steel’s owner and CEO LouAnne Berg has donated $2,070 to Sen. Harsdorf since 2008, and Berg has also contributed $650 to Gov. Scott Walker over the past two years.

The $217,499 LouAnne Berg will receive from taxpayers thanks to Republican Sen. Sheila Harsdorf is most certainly a handsome return on her initial investment.


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