On that subject, One Wisconsin Now Research Director Joanna Beilman-Dulin sent an open records request to Attorney General Brad Schimel and the Wisconsin Department of Justice asking if they had given info to WMC about the case, or discussed anything else in the 2 weeks before the Supreme Court election. It turns out that Schimel's Department of "Justice" wasn't too keen on answering that request, and One Wisconsin Now went public with their request and the DOJ's inattentiveness today.
On April 2 One Wisconsin Now requested records of communication from DOJ staff containing a handful of keywords related to the ad. After limiting their review to just seven employees and invoking attorney-client privilege and attorney work product exemptions, the DOJ provided a copy of an email exchange and a screen shot of a phone record from Attorney General Brad Schimel’s press secretary.Huh, it's almost like Schimel doesn't want people to find out he and WMC might be working together on a political race. Almost....
Beilman-Dulin fired back in a letter today, writing:
What WMC did in disclosing identifying information about child victims of a sex crime was despicable. I would have hoped that the DOJ leadership actions reflected a sincere concern for the parties who were re-victimized by a special interest group’s crass attempt to win an election. But with this wholly inadequate reply to my simple open records request, it appears the leadership of the Department of Justice is more concerned with protecting its own political self interests and those of the state’s big corporate lobby.
One Wisconsin Now has also renewed their original request for a full accounting of responsive DOJ records.
Another effect of this WMC-WisGOP Axis is the "dark store loophole", a maneuver that WMC supports which allows retail businesses to save millions in property taxes while forcing local homeowners to pay more. And an increasing amount of Wisconsin communities are looking to take their case against dark stores to the voters.
Some Brown County leaders hope their constituents can do what they themselves have not: Convince state lawmakers to change a law they say places an unfair tax burden on homeowners and small businesses.Outagamie County has already put this question on their November ballot, and other places may soon do the same.
As a result, local ballots in the November elections could include a question asking voters if the state should close the so-called "Dark Stores Loophole," which enables retailers to have their businesses assessed as if they were empty buildings rather than active stores.
That loophole unfairly shifts the tax burden from "big box" retailers and national drug-store chains to homeowners and mom-and-pop stores, county officials say....
"The state doesn't listen. The Senate sat on their hands," said Brown County Board Chairman Patrick Moynihan Jr. "Maybe if they won't listen to us, they'll listen to the citizens."
Save big money and spend more on property taxes, here at Menard's!
United Food and Commerical Workers union president John Eiden also took on the dark store loophole in this editorial in Urban Milwaukee. Eiden called out Walmart to task as a flagrant abuser of this method of assessing property values.
The dark store tax loophole allows big box retailers like Walmart to reduce their property taxes by appraising their property as if it was a vacant or “dark” store, thus resulting in a lower tax assessment. In Wisconsin, Walmart and other big box retailers used this loophole to try and cut their property assessments by a total of more than an estimated $700 million last year.Let me remind you why that dark store loophole remained on the books after this legislative session - because Robbin' Vos felt WMC's needs weren't being attended to in any bill to remove it.
And when Walmart doesn’t get its way, it unleashes its team of lawyers on our towns, like it’s done in Plymouth, West Bend, Lake Delton, Franklin, and other Wisconsin communities. Since 2014, Walmart has taken our towns to court 12 times over assessment appeals in an attempt to reduce its property tax bill.
Earlier this year, State Senator Janis Ringhand’s bill, A.B. 386, attempted to close the loophole in Wisconsin and was supported by over 60 bipartisan co-sponsors and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. But in the final days of the session, Assembly Leader Robin Vos and Senate Speaker Scott Fitzgerald blocked Ringhand’s bill and tried to push a “compromise” supported by business interests that, according to the League, was “worse than current law.” Because of Vos and Fitzgerald’s last-minute bait-and-switch, nothing was done to address the dark store tax loophole. Leaders Vos and Fitzgerald must not have homeowners in their districts, otherwise why would they place additional tax burdens on them while major corporations like Walmart get away with not paying what they owe?
Why does this matter?
In addition to Walmart’s corporate welfare, an estimated $6.2 billion in annual federal subsidies, and the estimated $205 million in cumulative nationwide state and local tax subsidies the retailer has already received, the Walmart Dark Store Tax Loophole creates a tremendous burden on our society. By fleecing local government out of much-needed revenue, our public schools, which heavily rely on property tax revenue, suffer the most. And when schools are underfunded, oftentimes taxes go up or new taxes are instituted, creating more of a burden for homeowners.
.@SpeakerVos says no deal could be reached on "dark stores" bill. He says @WisconsinMC was willing to compromise, but @LeagueWIMunis wasn't. There had been talks all night about trying to reach a deal on the issue that pits big box stores against local communities— Scott Bauer (@sbauerAP) February 23, 2018
And let me also remind you on this tax day that every dollar in corporate tax cuts and WEDC handouts to WMC members and other well-connected oligarchs is another dollar of taxes YOU have to pay to make up for, or another dollar in service cuts that YOU have to deal with.
After the blowback from their disgusting ad before the Supreme Court election, WMC hid the names of the CEOs on their Board of Directors from their website. Fortunately, I've posted their names before, and can easily find it on this site. Given the events of recent days, I think it's time to re-run that LIST OF SHAME.
JAY L. SMITH, Chairman & CEO
Teel Plastics, Inc., Baraboo
STEPHEN D. LOEHR, Vice President
Kwik Trip, Inc., La Crosse
KURT R. BAUER
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), Madison
TOD B. LINSTROTH, Senior Partner & Past Member & Chair of Management Committee
Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Madison
GINA A. PETER, Executive Vice President, Commercial Banking Division Manager
Wells Fargo Bank, Milwaukee
WMC BOARD OF DIRECTORS
DARYL ADEL, Business President
SIDNEY H. BLISS, President & CEO
Bliss Communications, Inc., Janesville
DAMOND WILLIAMS BOATWRIGHT, Regional President – Operations
SSM Health Care of Wisconsin, Madison
STEVEN G. BOOTH, President/CEO
Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc., Milwaukee
DAVID H. BRETTING, President & CEO
C.G. Bretting Manufacturing Company, Inc., Ashland
THOMAS A. BURKE, President & CEO
Modine Manufacturing Company, Racine
NATE CUNNIFF, Senior Vice President – Business Banking
BMO Harris Bank, Brookfield
DANIEL DEFNET, Executive Vice President, Commercial Banking
Johnson Financial Group, Racine
BRAD W. DENOYER, CPA, Partner
Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, Madison
JOHN N. DYKEMA, President/Owner
Campbell Wrapper Corporation; Circle Packaging Machinery, Inc., De Pere
PHILIP B. FLYNN, President & CEO
Associated Banc-Corp, Green Bay
JEFF T. FRENCH, National Managing Partner, Consumer & Industrial Products
Grant Thornton, LLP, Appleton
PHILIP C. FRITSCHE, SR., President
Beaver Dam Area Chamber of Commerce, Beaver Dam
LOUIS P. GENTINE II, CEO
Sargento Foods Inc., Plymouth
ROBERT GERBITZ, President & CEO
Hendricks Commercial Properties, Beloit
MICHAEL F. HAMERLIK, President & CEO
WPS Health Solutions, Madison
STEVEN H. JOHNSON, Factory Manager
John Deere Horicon Works, Horicon
WILSON R. JONES, President & CEO
Oshkosh Corporation, Oshkosh
PATRICIA LEONARD KAMPLING, Chairman & CEO
Alliant Energy Corporation, Madison
ROBERT L. KELLER, Chairman
J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc., Neenah
SUZANNE KELLEY, President & CEO
Waukesha County Business Alliance, Waukesha
CLIFFORD J. KING, CEO
Skyward, Inc., Stevens Point
JAMES M. LEEF, President & CEO
ITU AbsorbTech, Inc., New Berlin
ALLEN L. LEVERETT, President
WEC Energy Group, Milwaukee
SCOTT A. MAYER, Chairman & CEO
QPS Employment Group, Brookfield
JAMES J. McINTYRE, President and CEO
The Greenheck Group, Schofield
J. R. MENARD, Executive Vice President & Treasurer
Menard, Inc., Eau Claire
ROSALIE F. MORGAN, President
EMCS, Inc., Milwaukee
ROBERT MOSES, President & CEO
Prairie du Chien Area Chamber of Commerce, Prairie du Chien
BARBARA NICK, President & CEO
Dairyland Power Cooperative, La Crosse
MICHAEL NIKOLAI, President, COO & CEO
Waupaca Foundry Inc., Waupaca
JAMES J. OSTROM, President & CEO
Milk Source LLC, Kaukauna