Note to Canada: Let Scott Walker’s WEDC Serve as a Cautionary Tale

Jun 03, 2015

After trips to Georgia and Florida this week, and a Harley ride through Iowa this weekend, Scott Walker will take his presidential campaign up north next week on a taxpayer-funded “trade mission” to Canada to showcase his failed flagship jobs agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

News on the Canada trip, Walker’s fourth excursion out of the country this year, was breaking amid reports that WEDC did not conduct a staff review of a $500,000 loan extended from the governor’s scandal-plagued flagship jobs agency to the troubled company of a high-dollar donor to Scott Walker.

In May, the Wisconsin State Journal, citing documents obtained via open records requests from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Walker’s office, reported that Building Committee, Inc., a corporation owned by William Minahan, was in late 2011 the recipient of a $500,000 unsecured loan from WEDC for a proposed project to retrofit bank and credit union buildings for energy efficiency. The loan came at the urging of then-Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch and then-Chief of Staff to Scott Walker, Keith Gilkes. On Election Day in 2010, November 2, Minahan made a $10,000 contribution to Walker’s campaign — the maximum allowed under the law. 

Previously, WEDC officials said they could not locate underwriting documents for the loan; however, the state auditor yesterday confirmed to the Wisconsin State Journal that the loan to BCI was one of two cases reviewed by the Legislative Audit Bureau in 2013 where underwriters “did not perform staff reviews” to determine “if an applicant’s proposed project was eligible for a grant or loan.”

“Scott Walker’s failed flagship jobs agency is rife with pay-to-play corruption and it can’t follow the law or even its own rules – WEDC should serve as a cautionary tale for Canada on how not to do economic development,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Melissa Baldauff said Wednesday. “Under Walker, Wisconsin ranks 40th in the nation in private sector job growth, our wages are stagnant, and the engine that was supposed to drive our economy is a scandal-plagued Economic Disaster Corporation that makes more headlines for losing millions of dollars in taxpayer funds than it does for attracting businesses and fostering economic growth.”