Wednesday, July 11, 2018

WEDC lost millions more today. How can they be trusted with Foxconn?

Let's check back with our friends at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), and see if they've improved on being taken in by empty promises of job creation and losing Wisconsin tax dollars in the process.

Nope, same old failures and grifts.
Wisconsin's flagship jobs agency has ended its pursuit of repayment of a million-dollar state loan awarded to a De Pere businessman accused of bilking millions from investors and defrauding the state’s job-creation agency of more than $1 million.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Chief Executive Officer Mark Hogan reported to the agency board on Wednesday that officials decided to write off the balance of the $1.1 million loan owed by Ron Van Den Heuvel, former owner of clean energy company Green Box, because it's unlikely the agency will ever recoup the money.
Bad enough that the state threw more than $1 million down the drain for this fraudster, but worse is that it is merely 1 of 3 loans written off by WEDC today for a total of more than $4.3 million.

Oh, and did we mention that longtime WisGOP donor Van den Heuvel didn't just rip off WIsconsin taxpayers and other lenders, he flouted it along the way.
Hogan's report comes days after Van Den Heuvel was jailed after authorities alleged he committed more fraud and intimidated witnesses while free on bond.

Van Den Heuvel was sentenced to three years in prison in January for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and in a separate case faces 14 counts of wire fraud and money laundering in connection with allegedly bilking investors out of $9 million.

Van Den Heuvel was released on bond, but was jailed again in recent days after federal authorities reported Van Den Heuvel fraudulently obtained a $20,000 loan in December from a New York lender and then spent $8,600 of that loan at the exclusive Oneida Golf and Country Club.
Surprised this guy didn't get a gig at the Trump White House, he'd fit right in.

The Green Box fiasco led State Rep. Chris Taylor to make an obvious observation about the organization that just blew even more tax dollars on failed corporate welfare.

Among many reasons to hate the Fox-con, the fact that the GOP slush fund known as WEDC is in charge with handing out taxpayer dollars should be at the top of that list. The Green Box scam only promised to create a little over 100 jobs. Compare that to Foxconn, which promised 13,000 jobs and a $10 billion investment, and is already scaling back that plan and will make smaller panels than they claimed they would make when the Fox-con was set up last year.

Oh, but Foxconn claims the smaller factory is only Phase 1, and that the big factory comes later in Phase 2. Riiiight.

WEDC Secretary Hogan continues to talk up Foxconn, and was a main part of the PR effort that was part of Foxconn's groundbreaking in Racine County 2 weeks ago. If Foxconn fails to deliver those thousands of jobs jobs, or inflates costs, or otherwise tries to bilk more out of the state than they should get, do you think a Scott Walker-run WEDC is going to draw attention to that and try to get our money back? HELL NO!

They're not going to risk the public and political embarrassment of the Foxconn being the expensive white elephant many of us think it will be, so WEDC will keep claiming "things are great" while more of pur tax dollars get funneled out of their offices. Heck, WEDC is already saying that they will look the other way on the Fox-con development.
Asked whether Foxconn had communicated with WEDC about its change in plans for Mount Pleasant, Mark Maley, WEDC’s public affairs and communications director, said by email:

“It’s up to Foxconn — and not state government — to determine what the best use of that facility is. Foxconn is one of the largest companies in the world and has a 44-year history of success, so we’re confident it will continue to make decisions to ensure that continued success. It’s not the state’s role to get involved in the business operations of one of the largest and most successful companies in the world.”
It's our tax dollars that are paying for this, you dickhead. It better be the state's role to get involved!

You may have noticed that the Walker Administration and Foxconn are announcing small operations in other parts of the state and claiming "more business is on the way for your neck of the woods due to Foxconn" (he pulled this routine in Eau Claire today). What they don't mention is that those office jobs are part of a Foxconn strategy that allows it to reach Walker's "$53,000 average salary" claim without having to pay a lot of workers $53,000.
New documents released by the Department of Administration show the state originally planned to count only wages under $100,000 while the company argued there should be no “artificial cap” on how the average was determined.

In comments on two drafts of the state contract, attorneys for the company wrote, “Foxconn expects all wages to be considered for the average annual wage calculation.”

In response, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. expressed a willingness to increase the cap first from $100,000 to $200,000 and then again to $250,000.

Ultimately, the state’s contract with Foxconn counts wages paid up to $400,000 annually as part of the average. The company is also eligible for $1.5 billion in payroll tax credits and earns those on wages paid up to $100,000.
In other words...

I'm guessing that won't be the last time WEDC is "flexible" with Foxconn. The only way we'll have our tax dollars used wisely (and hopefully not used much at all) in the Fox-con is if we boot out Walker and his lackeys, and put in some people who actually believe "economic development" should be something more than tax-funded kickbacks to corporate cronies and pre-election photo ops.

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