Scott Walker Handed Out $124 Million to Businesses, Some Owned by Donors, Without Any Staff Oversight
Last Friday, the Wisconsin state government released an internal review of the practices of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), which supports business development in the state but has come under criticism for poor results and lack of transparency.
The review revealed that the WEDC handed out 27 contracts to 24 companies in a two-year period between July 2011 and June 2013 without any staff review from the underwriting department. Altogether, these awards totaled $124 million.
The review comes as the WEDC is set to meet on July 20th to discuss a loan that went to a failing company owned by one of Republican Governor Scott Walker's own donors. In that case, the owner of the company that received a half million dollar unsecured loan gave $10,000 to Walker's campaign.
Many of the companies on the list of firms given awards without oversight are also Walker donors. For example, Kenneth Stock who is the chief executive of KCS International, a boat builder, gave $8,500 to Walker. His company received an award of $820,000.
The agency is also under fire for failing to live up to expectations of what businesses would produce in return for taxpayer support. The largest unreviewed funding was a 2012 $62.5 million award to Kohl's Department Stores, which touted it would create 3,000 jobs. It has created only 473 so far.
“By any measure, WEDC is a failure that taxpayers cannot afford to support,” said Democratic state senator Dave Hansen in response to the revelations. “With Wisconsin’s economy still continuing to lag behind our neighbors and the nation, there is nothing left to do but shut the doors on WEDC and close the book on what has become a very expensive lesson in how not to create jobs.”