In typically secretive fashion, Scott Walker late Friday afternoon dumped the bad news that his troubled Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which lost track of $56 million in taxpayer funds and has become a symbol of Walker’s job-creation failures, faces “serious” problems, according to an internal memo.
Scott Walker’s unaccountable WEDC has faced problems since its sloppy inception. In September 2012, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development suspended the state’s Community Development Block Grant program, citing WEDC’s ineligibility to administer such funds as they were not an “instrumentality of the state.”
As recently as October, Scott Walker stated that, “I want to make it clear that overwhelmingly the staff of the WEDC is doing a good job.”
The quasi-private agency, which is not legally bound to report their financial records and whose employees are not subject to state ethics laws, has also come under fire for a suspected bid-rigging scheme, its failure to recognize education and worker training as essential building blocks in economic development, and for its failure to create and attract family-sustaining jobs in Wisconsin.
The internal memo cites WEDC’s “single-minded focus to drive job creation through new initiatives” as the reason for any “missteps” that have been made. However, under Scott Walker, Wisconsin has been among the worst states for job creation and has the under-performed the rest of the Midwest, leading one in five Wisconsin business owners to say they foresee layoffs in the coming year.
“Scott Walker’s WEDC was supposed to help create 250,000 new jobs and be the symbol of his first term in office,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Monday. “Well, it HAS become emblematic of Scott Walker deception and mismanagement. WEDC has lost $56 million in taxpayer funds and is dogged with rumors of bid-rigging, has a board full of Walker’s campaign donors, and is led by a career Walker campaign operative with zero business experience. Scott Walker has even removed the 250,000 jobs promise from his website. It sounds like WEDC is going to symbolize perfectly Walker’s time in office.”
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