Friday, May 27, 2016

Walker crony's resignation at WHEDA has WEDC, John Doe connections

With all the other sketchiness from Scott Walker's administration that has emerged in the last few days (the latest being Walker having to release his office's open records on messing with the UW System and the Wisconsin Idea), certain events end up getting short shrift, and I want to talk about another administration move that happened today which I think warrants some attention.

On the surface, it seemed like an innocuous press release that was sent out by the Walker Administration this morning, but beneath it were a whole lot of connections to headlines that were in today's newspapers.
Today, Governor Scott Walker announced the appointment of Ivan Gamboa as Chair of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). Former Chair of WHEDA, Corey Hoze, submitted his letter of resignation to the Governor on Thursday, May 26, 2016, and Mr. Gamboa’s appointment is effective today.
Quitting a job as the chair of WHEDA effective immediately, and a replacement was already lined up? Odd in itself, and then it gets even more interesting when you look at who quit.

The name Corey Hoze may be familiar to you, because he’s had longtime connections to Walker World. Hoze was was one of Scott Walker’s first appointees to the Board of Directors at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) before moving onto the WHEDA Board.

With that in mind, take a look what was in the news last night.
The early findings of an internal review being conducted by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) show the agency overpaid companies for $412,195 worth of tax credits they never earned, a number that is expected to rise.

In April, WEDC officials told members of their board they had uncovered a discrepancy in how they calculated tax credits and would be reviewing 222 different awards that had already been handed out to companies since 2006, dating back to the former Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

In a memo sent to board members Thursday, WEDC Secretary Mark Hogan said the discrepancy relates to how full-time jobs were calculated when determining how much to award in tax credits. Hogan indicated the most common reason for discrepancies came from how mid-year hires were counted in the verification process….

The final total is expected to be well into the millions of dollars.
Huh, funny how one of the former WEDC Board members quits his current gig on the day after this comes out, isn’t it? Meh, I'm sure there's no connection at all.

And that’s not the first time Hoze had been caught up in some Walker World sketchiness. Let’s go back to 2012, where Badger Democracy’s Scott Wittkopf mentioned Hoze as part of a larger scandal involving WEDC improperly handing out money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (oversight had to be shifted to the Department of Administration as a result). The connections between Hoze and Walker run back to the 2000s, and yes, it involves housing and the handing out of government funds.
On March 15 2012, just one month prior to HUD suspending WEDC from administering the block grant program, HUD sent a letter to the new Milwaukee County Director of Health and Human Services Hector Colon (Full March 15 2012 letter here). The letter informed DHHS Director Colon that after a HUD review of additional information supplied by the County, 23 of 29 block grant awards failed to meet federal requirements, and the County could face repayment of over $500,000 in grants. An additional 3 programs required further documentation.

The Milwaukee County program was being administered during that time period by Timothy Russell, at the time Walker’s housing director now facing trial in the John Doe investigation. Another key Milwaukee Walker Administration person in the block grant program was Lisa Jo Marks, director of DHHS under Walker. Marks is now the DOA Housing director in the current Walker Administration.

Lisa Jo Marks was Walker’s Child Support Enforcement Director from 2007 – 2009 before being named interim director of DHHS. Marks replaced Corey Hoze as DHHS director when Hoze left for a job as Associated Bank Vice President of Government Affairs. (cough-LOBBYIST-cough) Hoze also now serves on the WEDC Board of Directors – another agency currently involved in CDBG program controversy under Walker. Marks and Hoze undoubtedly work together in their capacities in DOA and WEDC (respectively) grant programs.….

Key individuals in the Milwaukee Walker Administration not under investigation in the [then-]ongoing John Doe investigation have been selected by the governor to be involved in the current CDBG program. A series of department memos from May-June 2010 show that Timothy Russell, Lisa Marks, and Cynthia Archer were all involved in the block grant award process, and had to have firsthand knowledge of grantors and awards. Only 29 awards were distributed in 2011.

A subsequent memo from October 2010 shows that Walker, Russell, and Archer were directly involved (along with the County Board and DHHS) in grant awards. A full list of past and present grants are included in the memo. On September 10, 2010, DHHS Interim Director Lisa Marks presented the list of CDBG awards to the Committee on Economic and Community Development for approval. In spite of the numerous checks and balances in the system, the grants were made and approved on the basis of trust in the Walker Administration’s assurance of their qualifications.
And hey, look who else from that story was in the news yesterday- Cindy Archer, whose frivolous lawsuit against John Doe investigators was tossed out of federal court. As part of that decision, federal judge Lynn Adelman allowed a copy of the evidence acquired by John Doe prosecutors to remain under seal, instead of being destroyed like the corrupt “WMC 4” on the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered. Adelman also included details about the 6 convictions in the Milwaukee County-based parts of John Doe (aka John Doe 1), as well as the alleged money-laundering scheme for WisGOP politicians that is the centerpiece of John Doe 2.

A lot of dots are getting connected here, aren’t they? And with the U.S. Supreme Court announcing this week that they will hear arguments in John Doe 2, it seems likely that we’re going to find out even more about the real way the Walker Administration has done business in Milwaukee and Madison, and how they chose who to do business with.

So that’s why today’s resignation of Corey Hoze from the WHEDA Board set off warning bells to me. Not many things are coincidental in Walker World, and let’s see if Hoze's quitting adds to the signals from this week which indicate an implosion of this corrupt and destructive group is coming soon.

1 comment:

  1. Great article Jake. Everything connceted to Walker has a trail of mishandled money.