Monday, July 14, 2014

WEDC: Losing Money, Rigging Bids & Outsourcing Jobs Since 2011

Scott Walker's big brainy idea that was gonna get him 250,000 jobs was to shut down the Wisconsin Commerce Department and start up a quasi-private one called the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation aka. WEDC.

Like most of Scott Walker's ideas, this one turned out to be problematic and kinda illegal, when they discovered federal funds might not be available because of the semi-private part of WEDC. (A first year law student could have pointed that out to them before they got started, but the Walker Administration never contacts legal advice until after the fact it seems.)

Things didn't really improve for WEDC.

They lost track of money, a whole bunch of corporations failed to repay their grants or create any jobs, and they blew through a bunch of WEDC CEO's really fast. It was a real life scandal.

With folks watching what WEDC was doing with all those millions of public funds, they tried really hard to stay out of the spotlight. It worked for a while and people began to forget what a mess WEDC was.

Then some people noticed that an awful lot of WEDC money was going to some companies who were big Scott Walker fans. In fact, 60% of WEDC funds granted were going to companies with ties to Scott Walker's campaign even though they only represented 1/3 of companies trying to get grants in the state.

In other words, 30% of the applicants got 60% of the money because they were friendly with Walker.

Between 2 John Doe investigations, 6 arrests and a secret router system to raise campaign money on public time - no one could find one single person who was surprised to learn that Scott Walker's semi-private commerce department was rewarding their friends with public money.

Then, the other shoe dropped.

Late last week we learned that two companies who had received WEDC grants had actually outsourced jobs in Wisconsin. This morning we learned there are at least three companies.

At least $20 million of public funds were awarded to these companies, and guess what? They too were generous Walker donors. They laid off roughly 300 Wisconsin workers for jobs that went to Asia and Mexico and one of the companies got a second grant after the fact.

WEDC spokesperson, Mark Maley, had this to say:
"If a company makes a business decision to move some of its jobs out of the state - despite our best efforts - we will continue to work with that company to ensure that as many jobs as possible remain in Wisconsin."
Okay, then. Way to go, Mark. Let's PAY them to send jobs out of the country.

No shame. No embarrassment. Amazing.