DAILY WISCONSIN

WEDC

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“Gov. Scott Walker’s embattled jobs agency hasn’t properly verified the number of jobs created by businesses receiving taxpayer money because it didn’t review payroll records, state auditors told lawmakers on Wednesday.The chief legal counsel for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. also acknowledged to the Legislature’s Joint Audit Committee that she didn’t offer an opinion on…

The New Crony Capitalist

Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday appointed banking executive and frequent GOP donor Mark Hogan to lead the state’s troubled job-creation agency…..

M&I Bank faced its own problems several years ago with bad loans and a crashing stock price and ended up being absorbed by BMO Harris of Canada in 2011.

M&I loan losses during the real estate bust — concentrated heavily in Arizona and Florida — totaled $4.8 billion across its portfolio from Dec. 31, 2007, through December 2010, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review.

Hogan has given $24,125 to Walker’s campaigns for governor since 2009, state records show.

He gave another $10,000 this year to the super PAC backing Walker’s presidential run. His son, Patrick, has worked for Walker’s office and campaign.

Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said the contributions and Hogan’s son’s work for the campaign played no role in Hogan’s appointment.

Scott Walker appoints banking executive to lead state jobs agency @ JSOnline.  

WEDC Taints Walker

Walker’s jobs agency is better understood as a model of what not to do. The persistent struggles of his perpetually mismanaged, publicly funded business development facilitator highlight just how inept government-designed agencies can be at spending taxpayer money to create jobs, and the perils of a politically driven, get-something-done approach to economic growth. And, in combination with his flawed arguments for the stadium deal, they offer a stark reminder of the sort of dismal results that can occur when politically connected corporate interests team up with politicians under the banner of happy economic boosterism: Businesses benefit, and so do politicians—but only at taxpayers’ expense. Despite Walker’s campaign-trail claims to be a champion for the little guy, what he’s inadvertently shown in Wisconsin is how the special interests win.

Via Scott Walker, Crony Capitalist @ Politico.

Scott Walker Was for China Until He Was Against It

But here’s the thing: The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation—which was a key part of Walker’s (unsuccessful) plan to bring 250,000 jobs to the state during his first term as governor, currently has two “Global Trade Ventures” advertised in 2016—to China. And in 2013, per Forbes, the governor met with Xi Jinping while in China on a trip promoting trade between his state and the country.

Via Scott Walker Is Two-Faced On China @ The Daily Beast

Fines? Back Taxes?  Just the candidate for WEDC funding!

Madison — The state’s top jobs agency has settled its $360,000 lawsuit with a shuttered Tomahawk metal company for $125,000, state officials said.

The Department of Commerce made a $375,000 to the company now known as Tomahawk Metal Products LLC in June 2011 even though the firm was behind in rent and taxes to the city and was facing federal fines for alleged health and safety violations, the website Wisconsin Watch reported this week.

Days after the loan was made, the Department of Commerce was replaced by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which brought the lawsuit against Tomahawk after it defaulted on the loan.

WEDC spokesman Mark Maley said that state officials were aware of the health and safety violations but that the project held the potential for creating jobs in a Northern Wisconsin area with high unemployment.

Via State gave now soured loan to company that owed rent and potential federal fines @ JS All Politics Blog.

Walker Phones

Moreover, the agency’s expense account turned out to be full of nuggets: WEDC had bought six season tickets to University of Wisconsin football games for the governor’s office. They expensed booze for meetings with WEDC contractors, train tickets in China and meals in India for the agency director’s family, and iTunes gift cards for agency staff.

Why iTunes cards?  Well, what good is a new iPhone without one?

WEDC footed the bill for 46 of its employees to break existing cell phone contracts so it could buy them $210 phones. The agency even kicked for a $35 activation fee.

Via How Walker Turned ‘Job Creation’ Into a Goodie Bag for Campaign Donors @ TPM.

‘We have one customer, and our job is to make him look good. . . . Huebsch is the prince, Walker is the king.’

Donor-Feeding Station

Well, the list of recipients of WEDC grants and its generous taxpayer-funded forgivable loans is populated with Walker campaign donors. Five awards worth $10.5 million went to cheese manufacturers who gave $104,000 to Walker’s campaigns. Diane Hendricks, a billionaire involved in construction who gave $500,000 to Walker’s 2012 recall campaign, won a $2 million tax credit. Another smaller, $500,000 loan was given to different construction firm, also owned by a Walker donor, who met with Walker’s chief of staff and the man Walker eventually put in charge of WEDC, Mike Huebsch. Huebsch was pushing for a $4.3 million package for the donor, William Minahan, even though his company was on the verge of collapse. The $500,000 loan was extended instead – and without review.These are just a few examples from a very long list….

Via How Walker Turned ‘Job Creation’ Into a Goodie Bag for Campaign Donors @ TPM.

Meanwhile, Reed Hall’s still around

“We are kept in the dark about so many things that are going on and only told when there is an investigative report or a legislative audit,” Barca said. “It’s clear to me that we are unable to proceed and get to the bottom of problems and protect the taxpayers if (Hall) were to continue as the CEO of WEDC.”

Via Democratic leaders call for WEDC chief to resign @ JS All Politics Blog.

$7,600,000

The state’s top jobs agency has written off $7.6 million in taxpayer-funded loans since it was created by Gov. Scott Walker about four years ago.The write-offs include 28 different loans removed from the balance sheets of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., with some companies receiving multiple loans. The majority of those loans, which officials typically…

Another!

Months after Gov. Scott Walker’s flagship job-creation agency was formed in 2011, it gave a forgivable $686,000 taxpayer loan to a Sheboygan company planning to build a combination helicopter and corporate jet — even though the company had no experience in aircraft manufacturing and underwriters hadn’t reviewed the company’s finances in years. But Morgan Aircraft…

Conservative Case Against WEDC

“Today, every state offers at least some sort of tax incentive for businesses,” according to the article by Jackson Brainerd, a research analyst for the National Council of State Legislatures. “Yet, despite lawmakers’ enthusiasm for corporation-specific incentives, many economists, experts and other observers, from the left to the right, doubt they are an efficient use…

WEDC above the fold

Which leads me back to the front pages of this past week’s Wisconsin State Journal.  There we found solid reporting about WEDC from Dee Hall and Matthew DeFour.  If you want to know what intrepid reporters look like I suggest you look at them as they research and work to piece together the convoluted parts…

Walker’s Off the WEDC Board 

The state’s Republican-led budget committee Thursday retained legislative oversight of Gov. Scott Walker’s troubled job-creation agency, removed the governor from its board and pledged further changes later this fall in the wake of a recent critical audit and a State Journal investigation.   Via Republicans ‘have concerns’ about 2011 WEDC loan to struggling business @ State…