WEDC Investigation Is Needed

BY Robert Miranda, Editor: Wisconsin Spanish Journal

July 11, 2015

As Scott Walker announces a run for the White House, the sleaze and incompetence of his office have become obvious to the public, causing many questions to arise.

The Republican Partys open records tampering failed. The failed initiative was followed by another taxpayer give-away article published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the hands of Walker’s corporatestein monster, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

The corporate monster WEDC took another hit after it was reported that WEDC lent $1.2 million to a businessman who had a history of troubled finances.

Just last week, Scott Fitzferald stated to the media that Walker and his office were directly involved in the drafting of the proposed changes to the Open Records Law. But Walker is not one for taking a fall. To take focus away from his own reason why he would like to see the Wisconsin open records law changed, Walker told conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes on WTMJ-AM that the idea didn’t come from him. Interesting. Walker did not initiate the removal of the open records changes from the budget until all hell broke loose from the political left and right.

What many people have not realized is that, if the changes to the Open Records Law had taken place, information pertaining to the corruption and incompetence at WEDC would have been difficult if not impossible to obtain. Could the WEDC information still criminally implicate Scott Walker? For sure it will be a topic of discussion among the GOP presidential candidates. Unfortunately for Walker, his hope to keep WEDC secrets secret slipped past him shortly after the effort to change the open records law was exposed.

The timing of this attempt to overhaul Wisconsin open records law, it can be argued, was about slowing down that WEDC avalanche now picking up steam and threatening his presidential aspirations, and potentially implicating him in corruption practices.

The twists and turns and the finger pointing around the open records story clearly indicate positioning by those in the know that a WEDC explosion is coming, and they all want plausible deniability from its backlash.

Since its inception, and until recently, Scott Walker had been the Chairman of WEDC Board; he named the CEO, and the key executive team, and it was pretty clear that as far as WEDC, not much got done in the Walker administration without first being vetted and approved by the Scott Walker team.

The tampering of open records appears to be an effort to ease the anxiety of officials caught in the middle of the WEDC mess. But it failed and now fellow Republicans are trying to distance themselves from being labeled conspirators in an attempt to keep the truth about WEDC from the public. What the public does not know is that those legislative changes do not even take place without being first approved by the governor. But the public outcry and appearance of corruption was too great for Walker to ignore.

Prior to the new WEDC loan development reported recently in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker was telling a different story about how the idea of changing Wisconsins open records law came about. His administrations attempt to point at others flew in the face of the fact that it was reported that a Walker spokeswoman stated the governor’s office was involved in the open records overhaul effort. But all that seems to not matter as the governors posse pointed out that a number of Republican legislators came forward with the idea and asked for the governors involvement.

According to the former WEDC chief, Paul Jadin the agency was a mess.

Jadin said in an interview with Madison WTAQ 1360 radio in May of 2013 that “All of the processes, particularly underwriting and tracking (were a mess). As we started to receive these internal reviews, we learned what we were doing was not acceptable and obviously that had to change,” said Jadin. “We knew there was an issue. I asked just about every week, ‘Bring me the loan portfolio. Bring me our balances on economic development tax credits, job tax credits; I’d get assurances that that information was coming. And instead of getting a report when I demanded it, I’d get a resignation from a comptroller.”

Paul Jadin left WEDC in November of 2012 to take on a position as President of Thrive, an eight-county regional economic development partnership in south central Wisconsin. He may have left WEDC a couple of years ago, but recent reports by the Wisconsin State Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding suspicious WEDC loans have revealed that loans to suspect corporations were approved during his time as the agency CEO under Scott Walkers oversight.

Who authorized the release of these loans and why, were the questions I posed to Paul Jadin by telephone. My interview with him was brief, but that was only because I had specific questions I wanted a yes or no answer to.

Asked was why WEDC released $500,000 to a company that showed no solvency, Jadins response was telling. He said that he recalled that former Secretary of Administration Mike Huebsch and Former Chief of Staff Keith Gilkes approached him seeking to get $3.8 million dollars on top of the $500,000 for the Building Committee, Inc. When pressed to explain why Huebsch sought the extra millions of dollars, Jadin responded by simply saying Huebsch would have to answer that question.

Jadin said for his part, he was against the request, but would not elaborate any further. What people may not be aware of is that actions by Mike Huebsch and Keith Gilkes, as the righthand of the governor, are assumed to have the approval of the governor, so it stands to reason why Jadin let the loan fly.

Ex-WEDC chief Paul Jadin told me: “I have no recollection speaking with the Governor about the Building Committee, Inc. I then asked Jadin if he was ordered by the governor to release the loan to the Building Committee, Inc. Jadin said that he and the governor would speak about loans to corporations totaling more than a million dollars, but that he did not recollect a discussion with the governor about the Building Committee, Inc. Hmmm…

Governor Walker and Jadin knew WEDC was already a messWhy did Walker allow funds to be released to these companies in the first place? Especially to those recipients who were/are campaign donors of his.

Scott Walker will most likely attempt to portray to the public that people at WEDC were acting unilaterally without his knowledge, just like he’s using the legislators in relation to the changes to the Open Records law. And the same kind of response he made to the public about a secret email system in his Milwaukee County office. At the very best, it is all incompetence by Walker and, at worst, there may be criminal behavior by him as the person in charge and his subordinates acting under his direction, using WEDC to leverage political support.

Nevertheless, like the outcry that occurred which prevented the open law records changes, the public must demand a full criminal inquiry into WEDC and hold Scott Walker accountable for its mishaps. In all likelihood, the irregularities about the Building Committee, Inc. and other corporations at WEDC are just the tip of the iceberg.

Back to top
Back to Minds Eye

Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on July 12, 2015

Legal Information |  Designed and built by Emergency Digital. | Hosted by Steadfast Networks