In 2010, Scott Walker was a career politician and college dropout with dreams of sleeping in the governor’s mansion. The Republican sold Wisconsin voters on his vision for a better Badger land, a vision that involved blowing up the widely panned Commerce Department.
Once elected governor he did just that, replacing the agency handling grant and loan programs with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation — a public-private hybrid littered with Walker appointees. The mean, red tape-less jobs machine was going to cut down on bureaucratic BS and create more than 19,000 jobs by fiscal year 2013.
But it didn’t.
What was supposed to be a crowning feature of his jobs plan is now a pussing zit on the face of Walker’s presidential campaign. According to an Associated Press report (via Yahoo!), the agency — personally chaired by Walker until this month — was burned by a lack of oversight and bungled loans.
Wisconsin legislators want to stop the bleeding and are calling to strip the agency of its lending powers. However, Walker donors have already cashed in. Billionaire construction queen Diane Hendricks, who floated Walker’s campaign $500,000 amid the 2012 recall election, nabbed a $2 million tax credit. Big shot cheesemakers (well, it is Wisconsin) the Gentine family had a high return on their $104,000 campaign investment, landing five deals worth more than $10.5 million in loans and financing, the AP reports.
In 2011, William Minahan’s Building Committee Inc. scored a $500,000 loan without a staff review. That amount was significantly more than the $10,000 Minahan gave Walker's campaign the day before the 2010 election. The deal was ushered by Mike Huebsch, Walker’s Administration Secretary, who pressed to give the company $4.3 million instead, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.
A year later the company was supposedly out of cash. The loan was extended and Huebsch tried to steer $4.5 million in federal funds its way, despite learning that Building Committee Inc. spent some of the state money on a Maserati lease, according to the AP.
The half million bucks has not been repaid and Building Committee Inc.’s phone number is disconnected, its website taken down.
At the end of March, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation had 37 delinquent loans worth $7.4 million.
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