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WI SOS to fellow Dems: Quit bashing WEDC
Wisconsin Reporter ^ | 6-14-13 | Ryan Ekvall

Posted on 06/14/2013 7:21:04 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic

MADISON — Secretary of State Doug La Follette wants his fellow Democrats to quit bashing the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

It appears that La Follette’s plea went unheard, as three senate Democrats on Wednesday called for a criminal investigation into the state’s main business subsidy agency.

“In some cases, the violations of state statute that took place appear to have risen to the level of criminal offenses,” Democrat state Sens. Bob Wirch of Somers, Dave Hansen of Green Bay and Jon Erpenbach of Middleton wrote in a letter to Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne. “We ask that you investigate to the fullest extent this serious violation of transparency and taxpayer trust.”

Sen. Robert Wirch, D -Somers, has asked for a criminal investigation into WEDC. It was uglier in the newspapers.

Wirch told the Kenosha News that WEDC “appears to be nothing but a slush fund.”

A legislative audit in May revealed in part that the agency violated state statute, failed to independently verify financial statements from businesses receiving loans or grants more than $100,000, and not independently verifying jobs created from grant and loan programs.

WEDC CEO Reed Hall, appearing last month at a Joint Legislative Audit Committee hearing, said he disagreed with some findings in the audit regarding statutory violations. In general, he said, the agency had implemented, or was in the process of implementing, solutions for many of the policy and reporting problems highlighted in the audit.

The Legislature has since moved to make changes to the embattled organization. A bill that passed the audit committee would alter the board of director’s makeup and require more disclosure on actual job numbers and financial awards given from WEDC. The Joint Finance Committee froze state funding for WEDC for fiscal year 2015, pending an audit and report to that committee.

Still, WEDC bashing is somewhat en vogue in the political arena. U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, for example, reportedly referred to WEDC as the “Wisconsin Economic Disembowelment Corp.” at the Democratic Party convention last Friday.

Hence the La Follette letter Saturday.

“Before any of us gets too caught-up in needless or senseless partisan posturing, I want to stress that economic development and job creation really are and should be approached and conducted on a bipartisan basis,” La Follette said.

Indeed, lawmakers in both parties generally support economic planning and using the state’s vast resources — taxpayer cash, lawmaking and borrowing prowess — as a tool for development and job creation.

Just this week, WEDC awarded Walgreens, the nation’s largest drugstore chain, $2 million in tax credits — $805,000 to create 115 jobs and $1.195 million to make capital investments at a DeForest distribution center, both over a three year period.

“Walgreens has been an important business partner in the DeForest community. This expansion will expand job opportunities, especially for people with disabilities,” said Hall in a statement . “We’re pleased to be able to partner with Walgreens in their expansion of its distribution center.”

This seems to be more what La Follette had in mind.

“I urge members of my party (Democratic) to ‘back-off’ from negative, even threatening comments for press and media consumption, and to adopt a more patient and understanding posture” while the WEDC chief executive tries to get agency back on track, La Follette said in his statement.

La Follette noted Hall’s formidable career as executive director of the Marshfield Clinic, and not a “political hack” as a reason for optimism that WEDC will turn around. And agency spokesman Tom Thieding contends the WEDC’s reputation in the business community already is sterling.

Hall took over as interim-CEO last fall and was made permanent CEO in late January.

Thieding said none of the senators reached out to Hall or WEDC officials before calling for an investigation, which comes almost a month and a half after the audit’s release.

“WEDC is committed to responsibly managing our operations, serving our customers and providing accountability for taxpayer investment by growing businesses in Wisconsin,” Thieding said in response to the senators inquiry. “We welcome every opportunity to work with the Legislature to fulfill our commitment to complete transparency.”

Still, La Follette, for all his support of WEDC leadership, was OK with the potential criminal investigation.

“I’m not a criminal lawyer,” La Follette told Wisconsin Reporter. “There was some stuff going on there early involving financial aspects that were questionable. If those were criminal let’s act on it, but let’s separate the history from the future. If there needs to be an investigation of the past, that’s OK.”


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; News/Current Events; US: Wisconsin
KEYWORDS: economy; jobs; sos; subsidy; wedc
LaFollette is the ONLY Democrat elected official currently in office outside of the legislature. Usually he follows the Dem party line to the point of obsession. He is the one who refused to publish Republican passed Voter ID and Act 10 laws last year until the very last minute. This allowed several large school districts to rush through their contracts and precluded those districts from enjoying the savings that everybody else got.

Something must be going on. This is very uncharacteristic behavior for Mr. LaFollette.

1 posted on 06/14/2013 7:21:04 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic; Hunton Peck; Diana in Wisconsin; P from Sheb; Shady; DonkeyBonker; ...

Democrats eating their own again.

FReep Mail me if you want on, or off, this Wisconsin interest ping list.


2 posted on 06/14/2013 7:22:05 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

By the way, SOS (for those outside of Wisconsin) means Secretary of State. In Wisconsin, the Secretary of State’s official duties are few — he publishes the Blue Books (official listing of all members of the legislatures — sort of like a high school year book — and he publishes the official versions of all bills that are passed before they go to the Governor for signature.

Mr. LaFollette has held on to this office for years through a little skullduggery. He is a distant cousin of the famous, late Progressive, Senator “Fighting Bob” LaFollette — not a descendant. Doug LaFollette changed the spelling of his name before running for office so that the voters would think that he was a son, or grandson of the famous orator and former Senator, Governor, and Congressman.


3 posted on 06/14/2013 7:33:08 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

What was the original spelling ?


4 posted on 06/14/2013 7:41:37 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (NRA Life Member)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks

I’ve forgotten whether it was an l or a t that was missing. And it might have been one word, rather than 2. I have friends who own a vacation cottage near him. He is NOT a nice man. He tried to force my friend to remove his US flag — told him to “move the flag pose back into the woods where nobody can see it.”

Can you imagine an elected state official saying something like that? Our friend resisted and now flies the banner of the USAF under the US flag for his son who is a USAF doctor. Right out over Lake Michigan where everybody can see it. Mr. LaFollette is appalled.


5 posted on 06/14/2013 7:56:27 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

you’re right...someone must have dirty pichers or something


6 posted on 06/14/2013 8:14:33 AM PDT by bigbob
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Yep. Gotta get that WEDC quick-like!

That damned WEDC is being effective and improving the economy of Wisconsin, making fewer people dependent upon the government!

Goddam Capitalist Pigs! How dare they give people, especially minorities a way out of dependency!

There otta be a law!

7 posted on 06/14/2013 8:25:49 AM PDT by Redleg Duke ("Madison, Wisconsin is 30 square miles surrounded by reality.", L. S. Dryfus)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Worked for a Sheboygan based company for several years.
Know about Fighting Bob.
8 posted on 06/14/2013 8:27:31 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (NRA Life Member)
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