Saturday, April 23, 2016

You thought WEDC's waste and fraud was a thing of the past? Think again!

It had been a while since we saw a story on the problems that have been part and parcel of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Well, wait no longer! Matt DeFour of the Wisconsin State Journal gave this update on the taxpayer-backed slush fund for Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP, and it looks like WEDC is throwing taxpayer money out the door for jobs that may not exist.

DeFour notes that over $170 million in “jobs tax credits” have been made since 2007, and at Thursday’s WEDC Board meeting, it was revealed that not all of those jobs may have happened.
Of that amount, companies have so far qualified for $65.8 million in credits for meeting job-creation goals, according to agency records, while the remaining nearly $105 million has not yet been earned.

But [WEDC Executive Director and Scott Walker donor Mark] Hogan told the WEDC board that the tax credits issued have been based on faulty calculations.

WEDC figures show that the credits are based on the creation of 13,797 jobs and the retention of another 44,114. It’s unclear how inaccurate those numbers are.
So not only has WEDC likely wasted taxpayer on tax breaks for jobs that don’t exist, they likely will also have to spend taxpayer dollars on legal action if they want to get back any of these unwarranted credits. We'll see if they actually try to get the money back, because in WisGOP World, the poor person that might get $100 in undeserved food stamps- THOSE are the people that are worth spending major time and resources to go after in case of fraud. Corporate criminals that waste millions in welfare? Not as big a priority, right WisGOP? It sure seems that way on your radio stations and other GOP-perganda sites. Wonder why that is?

And if you thought that WEDC had improved on its originally awful record tracking loans given out to Walker donors businesses in recent years, this move from yesterday’s meeting indicates otherwise.
The [WEDC] board also approved an amendment to its budget doubling the amount of reserves for writing off loans from $3.5 million to $7 million. The reserves cover both forgivable loans and defaulted loans that won’t be recovered.Earlier this week a judge issued an arrest warrant for a De Pere businessman whose company Green Box NA Green Bay owes WEDC more than $2.1 million in unpaid loans. (the same businessman had given tens of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Wisconsin Republicans over the years).

The Green Box loan was one of several bad loans from WEDC’s early days when the agency was under pressure to help Gov. Scott Walker create more than 250,000 jobs. The agency’s default rate has declined, but several of the defaulted loans, including Green Box, are still on the books as money the agency hopes to recoup.
And that means more money is going to have to go into WEDC in the coming years if they want to operate at the same levels, because more money has to be set aside to cover these defaults.

Oh, and this is where I remind you that a bill that would have made WEDC fraud a felony was shot down in the State Senate by Republicans who decided it was more important to allow the handouts to continue than to actually do anything about defrauding the taxpayer.

Maybe instead we should blow this slush fund up and try a different idea on job creation and incentives that doesn’t involve fraud, sketchy record-keeping, and/or kickbacks to GOP donors. Just a thought.


  1. There’s always more…
    -WEDC has been rolling without a VP of Credit & Risk since Oct 2015, and Hogan announced that despite “outstanding candidates,” they’ve suspended the search so that Hogan can take a “hands-on approach.” They might hire somebody for Credit & Risk “down the road at some point.” This is some WEIRD timing right here.

    Get to know your newest WEDC Board Member (and Treasurer!), David J. Drury
    -$21,750 donated to Walker
    -Co-owner (via Wing Capital) of Kickhaefer Mfg - $182k WEDC tax credit in 2012
    -Co-wner (via Wing) of Muza Metal Products - $178k WEDC tax credit in 2011; full tax credit awarded despite only creating 14 of 30 promised jobs
    -Board Member of …drumroll… PLEXUS!!!
    -In his introductory remarks at the Board Meeting, he talked about how he stopped being an accountant because he hates regulation and compliance… and about how he sold Stolper-Fabralloy Co. to a company that shipped all the jobs to Arizona. Left out the bit about Plexus, though. See 1:28:00 here -

    Lastly, the WisEye video of the April 21 Board Meeting just happens to have no audio during the discussion of the erroneous tax credits. Around 2:34:34 of

    1. Wow! That's great added detail, thanks. As usual with the Walker crew, actions (or lack thereof) and following the money trump the empty words of "We'll fix it."