Monday, August 26, 2013

The Sweetheart Deal That Keeps On Giving

Well, now we can see why Scott Walker rewarded Scott Suder with a cushy position on the state's Public Service Commission.  It was for his work in setting up a scheme that will allow Walker a perpetual flow of campaign donations using taxpayer dollars.

I am referring to this story in which a ghost sporting group has just been rewarded a contract giving them a half million dollars every two years ad infinitum:
A $500,000 sportsmen's grant slipped into the state budget earlier this summer is set to go to a group with ties to Republican insiders that has praised GOP politicians and lobbied for legislation such as lowering regulations on iron mining and development in wetlands.

The United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation Inc., a group formed in January with no record of its own in outdoors training, is the only applicant for the scantly noticed two-year grant to promote hunting, fishing and trapping in Wisconsin that is being reviewed Thursday by a special panel.

If the grant is approved, the state could end up paying it every two years to United Sportsmen, which has said in its application that it would use most of the money to pay its staff and consultants.

The carefully crafted grant requirements were unanimously voted into the state budget in May after just seven minutes of discussion by the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, which acted on a motion drafted by outgoing Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) and Rep. Dan LeMahieu (R-Cascade).

United Sportsmen has ties to several Suder allies, including his donors, lobbyists, a former lawmaker who worked on major concealed-carry legislation, and his former chief of staff.
Ah, but wait, there's more:
In an interview, Suder said the grant would help to avert a "looming crisis" for hunting and fishing and ensure the future of those pastimes in the state. He said he talked to United Sportsmen and other groups about the grant but wasn't aware that United Sportsmen would include his former chief of staff, Luke Hilgemann, in the application as one of its educators.

Hilgemann recently left his job overseeing and lobbying for the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity to take a job in Washington as the No. 2 executive for the group favoring conservative economic policies.
So, so far we have Scott Suder slipping through a bill that gives a half million dollars every two years to a shadow group that was headed up by his former chief of staff and former AFP-WI leader. Well, if you thought this was bad, remember, there's always more:
The grant will provide $200,000 this year and $300,000 in 2014. Thereafter, it will provide $450,000 in each two-year budget. The grantee will have to provide $150,000 of its own funds in matching dollars in each future two-year budget.

The state money in the first year will be from general tax revenue; the DNR said it was still clarifying how the grant would be funded beyond 2013.

After the Sporting Heritage Committee meets next week, it will be disbanded, said the DNR's Paul Heinen. If conditions such as the matching funds are met, the grant will be paid in perpetuity, he said.

Yes, you read that right. It could go on forever and ever, or at least as long as Walker is in office.  What a lovely way to make sure that you keep getting tax dollars kicked back to you in the form of campaign contributions.

But hold on a minute. All that bilge is just what the reporter wrote. There is yet still more.

United Sportsmen of Wisconsin (USW) was founded in 2011, just days before the recalls.

Although they were not registered as a PAC, they were very much involved in the recalls.   USW had been involved with sending out misleading absentee ballot mailings.  These fraudulent mailings included an incorrect date (August 11 instead of August 9) and excluded information such as who paid for the mailers. (A copy of the fraudulent mailer can be found here.)

USW has registered a lobbyist, who has been pushing for not only the right to kill more animals with more weapons, but also had been pushing for the iron ore mine.  Perhaps they merely want the challenge of killing the mutant animals that would be created from the pollution?

At least we don't have to worry about these corrupts money launderers being free floating.  Walker and the Teapublicans in the legislature were kind enough to make sure that they had a home - the former MacKenzie Center.

As the Teapublicans were distorting the original intent of the Mackenzie Center, former legislature and Teapublican plant, Bob Welch, suggested that the Natural Resources Board get rid of the requirement that the land be used for environmental education.  The Board, which treated Welch like a long lost friend, took his suggestion over the pleas of more than 40 people who came to speak to keep the center intact.

In what I am sure is not merely coincidental, the now president of USW, Andy Patzlaff, was quoted as being just fine with the dropping of environmental educational requirements, even though he wasn't familiar with the center:
Promoting hunting, trapping and fishing in Wisconsin is in complete harmony with the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center’s current mission of teaching young people about the environment, according to the president of United Sportsmen of Wisconsin.

Andy Patzlaff, who lives near Maribel in Manitowoc County, said he’s not familiar with the MacKenzie Center, located east of Poynette in Columbia County’s town of Lowville.

But there’s no reason, he said, why the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources can’t make the MacKenzie Center into a “first-of-its-kind outdoor skills recruitment and retention center,” while keeping the things that the center already has — including an exhibit of Wisconsin’s indigenous wildlife and working with schools to incorporate the environment into children’s education.

“We fully support having environmental education continue,” Patzlaff said Friday, “and the DNR people I’ve talked to seem to feel the same way.”
To sum it up, Walker and his allies changed the conditions of the MacKenzie Center to drop the environmental education standards.  Then, with the use of Suder, the Teapublicans slip in a new grant crafted from thin air, which put in very specific guidelines on who could get the money and without telling anyone it was there.  Then a shady group made up of only a handful of leaders - all of whom just happen to be politically connected - but no members applies and is granted this money which they will probably use for anything but teaching how to hunt. Now we can keep giving our taxpayer money to this AFP/NRA group forever and ever, and they can keep using it to help keep Walker and other Teapublicans get elected.

Can this state even get any more corrupt?


  1. Capper, don't ask that question, we'll probably find the answer soon enough.

  2. Doling out taxpayer money to a GOP front group, which will use it for lobbying and "issue oriented" ads in favor of GOP politicians is a stunning bit of corruption, even by the standards of the Walker regime. This corruption should really start to snowball now as the 2014 election approaches. Will the corporate controlled state media even notice?

  3. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - does this seem ethical to you?

  4. This is the first time I have read an editorial from this site, and it is one that should enrage every Wisconsin citizen. I have volunteered for several different sportsman organizations in Wis. and never heard of this grant, because the dirtbags never put out a press release on it. There are a few important bits of information left out. 1. The vast majority of this $ will go for wages and benefits. 2. The grant was written to exclude groups with national organizations such as the Wild Turkey Federation, whitetails Unl, and Ducks Unl. 3. The only idea they have stated to the media is that they want to lower the hours for hunter safety. Really?? Our extremely successful safety program leads the nation yet these turds want to lower the standard, which no sportsmen have ever claimed keeps kids from hunting.
    As an avid fisherman and hunter, this administration is disgusting and they need to go. They are led by corrupt, arrogant morons.

    1. Walker's corruption strikes at the very soul of Wisconsin.

  5. This shows a few things. 1. Wisconsin as a state will never get back on the right track while stuff like this not only happens, but is celebrated. Suder belongs in the pen for this, NOT in a cushy state job.

    2. I hope whoever the candidate is against walker not only emphasizes the crony capitalism of the Walker admin but vows to fire everyone of them when they take office.

    3. The fact that they had to make up a "grant" for which they had no experience, shows how utterly unemployable and incompetent the whole WI republican party is.

  6. I wonder how many "Sportsmen for Walker" are rethinking their votes.

  7. "I wonder how many "Sportsmen for Walker" are rethinking their votes."

    If they aren't already there is only a few explanations.
    1. they are not paying attention. (YET!)
    2. they have not personally been impacted. (YET!)
    3. they are brain dead ideologues. (ALWAYS)

    Groups 1 and 2 there is still hope for them. Group 3 let's just move on.

  8. Walker wanted to move Wisconsin forward. We got FUBARD instead. New State Motto: Fubard since 1848.

  9. If you want to see where this all leads to look back to the wolf kill bill passed last year. Also look at former state senator and current lobbyist Bob Welch. This has RICO written all over it and all of these killing cartels and Suder need to be prosecuted.

  10. What a joke this is. Even more of a joke is Gov. Walker thinking he has any chance at becoming our next president.