Walker’s Economic Disaster Corporation: They Broke the Law and the Law Won

Aug 20, 2014

It’s no secret that Scott Walker’s Economic Disaster Corporation hasn’t done a good job of putting Wisconsin back to work. We’re now dead last in Midwest job growth – 10th out of 10 states – since Walker took office in 2011. 
Walker created the quasi-public jobs agency to lead the way in creating the 250,000 new private sector jobs he promised Wisconsin as a candidate in 2010, but since its inception WEDC has been a complete disaster, known better for scandal and problems than creating jobs.    

In May of last year, an audit from the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau found Walker’s WEDC routinely violated state law.  From July 2011 to December 2012, Walker’s flagship jobs agency failed to keep track of job creation efforts for a group of companies that received award money, which prevented the agency from informing the state legislature with accurate information on their efforts to create jobs. Under state law, WEDC is required to track award money and present accurate information to legislators on job creation efforts. 

In addition, the audit revealed stunning levels of managerial incompetence as 56 percent of credit card purchases by the agency included no description of their purpose on expense reports. WEDC spent taxpayer fund on alcohol, iTunes gift cards and Badgers football season tickets. 

In response to the audit, WEDC CEO Reed Hall dodged questions and refused to take responsibility for the Legislative Audit Bureau’s findings, only commenting that WEDC would comply with the law in the future. Over a year later, Wisconsin taxpayers still have no way of knowing for sure if the agency is following state statutes.

Revelations of WEDC’s law breaking came a year after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development called out WEDC for mishandling millions in federal grant money. That same year WEDC admitted it failed to track more than $8 million in unpaid loans to nearly 100 Wisconsin businesses.

“Walker’s Economic Disaster Corporation was supposed to put Wisconsin families back to work, but when I think of Walker’s flagship job agency words like ‘corruption’, ‘incompetence’, and ‘failure’ immediately come to mind,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said on Thursday. “Scott Walker has to take responsibility for a jobs agency that spiraled out-of-control long ago, violated the law, and failed to create the jobs he promised to the people of Wisconsin.”