It is getting to the point that learning a Republican governor is embroiled in some kind of corruption scandal is so normal that it is easy to regard it as little more than business as usual in Republican state politics. It is unclear which Republican governor is more inclined toward corruption involving campaign money for favors, but it is safe to say that two of the leaders are New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Walker is particularly suspicious due to being owned by the Koch brothers who have anointed him as their choice to occupy the White House and hand them control of the government in return for buying him the presidency. It is no surprise, then, that late last week one of Scott Walker’s creations shortly after being sworn in as Wisconsin’s governor released a report that exposed yet another Walker administration scandal involving taxpayer money going directly to Walker’s campaign donors.
When Walker took office, one of his first self-appointed tasks was creating the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) that he touted as a “private-public hybrid” to allow “greater flexibility” in offering free taxpayer money to Walker-friendly corporations that promised to expand in Wisconsin and foster a job-creation bonanza the like the nation has never before seen. As Walker’s self-professed “signature initiative,” the WEDC would be chaired, controlled, administered by none other than Governor Scott Walker. He was, after all, the creator of the WEDC and no-one in Wisconsin was better suited to hand out free taxpayer money to corporations in return for campaign donations than a noted Koch acolyte and corrupt Republican like Scott Walker.
In an article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, revelations exposed how Walker’s administration found what it labeled “creative ways” to give free WEDC money to corporations and ignore legitimate concerns about the abilities of corporations to deliver on promises they had no intention of fulfilling; something Scott Walker was well aware of when he created the WEDC and appointed himself its chairman. Now, some of the dirty details have been revealed with hardly any mention or attention from conservative main stream media. Even corporate media knows not to cross a Koch surrogate like Walker no matter how corrupt he is or how much taxpayer money he steals from Wisconsin residents to give his corporate donors and friends.
In a WEDC report curiously released late Friday, Walker’s corporate welfare project revealed the scandalous $500,000 WEDC loan to Building Committee Inc. (BCI). BCI is a corporation owned by someone who gave Governor Scott Walker’s campaign the maximum donation allowed by law; the scandal is that Wisconsin taxpayers saw their $500,000 loan to Walker’s corporate donor never get repaid by design of Walker’s pet project. Before any American, or Wisconsin taxpayer, gets exercised over Walker’s half-a-million dollar corporate welfare gift to a campaign donor, they should know that the WEDC also revealed all of its other records regarding “loans and grants” to corporations without any oversight, review, or accountability except by the WEDC’s chairman and man-in-charge, Governor Scott Walker.
The WEDC provided the results of a review of the awards that It made from July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2013, and revealed that 26 separate awards were made without any formal Staff Review; a “Staff Review” is the alleged WEDC accountability mechanism that is supposed to be responsible for underwriting the so-called “job-creating awards.” All the awards took place within the first 15 months of Walker creating the WEDC under the guise of a public-private hybrid to create jobs and foster outrageous economic growth for Wisconsin taxpayers; something that has not occurred. One cannot fathom any state’s agency handing out 26 taxpayer-funded “awards” without some kind of formal review or oversight mechanism in place to protect taxpayer’s investment, but when one realizes it is Scott Walker handing out a whopping $124 million of Wisconsin taxpayer’s money to his corporate donors, corruption and cronyism makes perfect sense. Remember, the Koch brothers believe if government has to exist at all, it is only to take taxpayer dollars and transfer them directly into corporate coffers and in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, taxpayer money is transferred without review or oversight.
Some of the notable “awards” under Walker’s “guidance” besides the half-a-million to a campaign donor without remuneration were to major Wisconsin corporation as ‘incentives’ to expand operations and create an overabundance of jobs. Corporations such as Spectrum Brands, Kestrel Aircraft Company, Plexus Corporation, and Kohl’s department store that Walker regularly touts as the best “business approach and economic model” to govern the United States. Of the 27 awards without any WEDC oversight except Governor Scott Walker’s, the largest was worth $62.5 million of Wisconsin taxpayer money to Kohl’s Department store. The second largest ‘gift’ went to Kestrel Aircraft to the tune of $18 million and to no-one’s surprise Kestrel has not built one airplane in the 3 ½ years since it got free taxpayer money. Third highest, and likely most offensive to Wisconsin taxpayers, was a $15 million taxpayer gift to the Plexus Corporation that promptly sent 116 Wisconsin residents’ jobs to foreign countries instead of creating them. Walker promised that investing taxpayer dollars in already-profitable corporations would ‘encourage them to expand’ when he announced his signature public-private hybrid initiative to create jobs for Wisconsin residents.
In yet another WEDC scam, Walker attempted to hand out an additional $55 million to corporations and sought to exempt the payouts from open records requirements. Whether it is due to the state’s budget woes or just fear of being ensnared in Walker’s corruption, the state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee put a screeching halt to the “secret” gifts. After the release of the WEDC report last week, it is glaringly obvious why Walker was so anxious to conceal the proposed $55 million gifts from taxpayers to corporations friendly to Scott Walker.
Walker cannot possibly slough off revelations of his blatant corruption and cronyism as a plot by school teachers, public-sector employees, Democrats, or unions to undermine his White House ambitions. WEDC and its unaccountable corporate welfare is Walker’s creation and signature ‘job creation’ initiative, and he was the chairman of the board while $124 million in taxpayer dollars were handed out as gifts to corporations without oversight, accountability, or in Wisconsin parlance “staff reviews.” Walker being in complete control of the WEDC informs why the corporations that received free taxpayer dollars have not even attempted to create jobs or expand operations in Wisconsin and why should they?
Scott Walker’s name is as synonymous with corruption and cronyism as it is with the Koch brothers, and it is beyond comprehension why Wisconsin voters tolerate his criminality or why the Koch puppet is not preparing to spend a decade or two in a federal penitentiary for campaign finance violations. However, this is America and campaign finance laws are so regularly violated by Republicans that it appears even the Federal Elections Commission regards it as business as usual. It is either that, or the FEC has had its budget slashed so viciously by the Koch Congress that it is ill-equipped to pursue someone as well-connected to the Kochs as Scott Walker. What is beyond reason is why Wisconsin residents continue tolerating a corrupt Republican like Scott Walker and it leads one to marvel at the idiocy of Wisconsin voters who obviously love the idea of their Koch surrogate giving away $124 million of their hard-earned tax dollars to his corporate friends and campaign donors.