Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Inside WEDC

By Jeff Simpson

We brought you the story of how Scott Walker's key job creation agency - Wisconsin Economic Development Committee(WEDC), has been a massive failure.   This was one of Scott Walkers big campaign ideas, to replace the accountable Commerce Department with the unaccountable WEDC.

Unfortunately, this is one promise he actually kept.   WEDC's failings are grand, costly and well documented but there is so much more.  

Let's look at the WEDC mission statement that comes from Scott Walker himself:

To elevate the Wisconsin economy to be the best in the world by providing a positive business climate, world-class support services, and economic development tools to accelerate business start-up, attraction, and growth.
Core Values
INTEGRITY. We will hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards.
HONESTY. We will tell the truth without qualification.
ACCOUNTABILITY. We will honor our commitments to ourselves, our partners, and our investors.
RESULTS-FOCUS. We will add value in every action.
CUSTOMER-CENTRIC. We will put the needs of the customer first.

Then he goes directly against everything he has written out here(career politician Scott Walker is Chairman of the Board) by appointing young, no business experience, political hack Ryan Murray as Chief Operating Officer .  Nothing like trusting a multi million Wisconsin taxdollar budget to a kid(Ryan Murray) who has a Poly Sci degree and an extensive history of making copies and stuffing mailers, for the "friends of scott walker" campaign.

But wait, there's more(thanks to an astute reader of this very blog):

I was curious to know who is Ryan Murray, chief job creator. He has no business experience. But Murray has worked for disgusting right wing politicians with questionable ethics.

Then there is Murray’s conflict of interest as a Member of the Board of Directors for Brightstar Wisconsin Foundation, which “accepts charitable donations as a 501(c)(3) organization and uses them to take equity positions in for-profit early-stage companies.” WEDC gave Brightstar $300,000. How much profit is going into Murray’s pockets as a member of the Board?

The explanation on Brightstar’s website about this conflict of interest does not pass the smell test.
Apparently the one thing he did master, while working for Scott Walker, was how to leave your ethics at the door.  It is not that big of a deal anyway, its only tax dollars!

But Wait there is still more!  Small Government republican Scott Walker better look up what the word small means!

The Legislative Audit Bureau found that as of November 2012, eight WEDC officials received salaries of more than $100,000, with a ninth at $98,500. The audit notes that several top level position holders at WEDC are paid less than their industry peers.

By comparison, at the former Wisconsin Department of Commerce, the state agency that Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican majority replaced with WEDC in 2011, just two employees topped $100,000 in 2010, according to payroll data collected by Wisconsin Reporter through an open records request.

WEDC CEO Reed Hall, reportedly was set to make $120,000 when he took the full-time position in January 2013. In February, he received a $65,000 raise.

The agency has around 90 employees, including regional account managers through the state.
About a fifth of WEDC employees received “merit awards” from management, the audit notes. Board members at WEDC may not have even been aware of the policy.

“We found that WEDC’s full governing board has not always been informed about certain personnel policies and practices, including the amounts and types of compensation and fringe benefits provided to WEDC staff,” the audit states.

In December 2012, 17 staff members received merit awards totaling $59,500. Six of those awards were for $5,000 each.
Eight executives making well over $100,000/yr, and have given out numerous merit awards.  All while the agency itself has lost MILLIONS of taxpayer dollars.    I would be curious to see what in their job description would make them worthy of merit pay INCREASES.  

That does not even include the other perks like a taxpayer funded iphone, ipad and we will even foot the bill for their members to come down to Madison on football Saturdays and catch a game(we even provide the tickets):

Among other notes, the audit found $1,109 spent from three transactions for rooms rented in Madison for unspecified meetings. Taxpayers also picked up the $1,789 tab for six season tickets to UW-Madison football games.
WEDC seems like a great place to hide Big Walker donors children, so much easier than having them attempt to survive in the real world.

The punchline of the audit though, is this:

  The audit notes that several top level position holders at WEDC are paid less than their industry peers.
A gold-plated, marvelous no-prize awaits if you can find anyone in Wisconsin, who is a peer to Ryan Murray and whose salary is higher than Ryan's. 

Contest entries  - or @jeffsimpson7


  1. Replies
    1. I am guessing on one of Walker's China vacations where we pay for he and his donors to have a luxurious vacation.

      Either that or oostburg.

  2. I recently Read and took your advice with regards to a story involving Pres. Obama and the accuracy of such and I wrote to the Author. I was NOT respectful in any manner with my comments. Yes I did strike a Nerve, and also I got their attention. I raised many questions involving the WEDC and Why the lack of answers. Those issues are Legitimate. Not just what you raise, also what was written about on the thread yesterday at the Blue Cheddar Blog. As of now, in a follow up it is my understanding based on the reply to my follow up, that they are taking a look at the Claims I made.

  3. In my response, I questioned the investigative reporting as compared to Carrying the water. One of the questions posed to me was, "Has the governor acted Illegally? I responded with according to the WEDC audit, The Audit said that with regards to some Loans, That Some State and Federal laws had not been followed in awarding such. If that is what the audit claims, Who has been held accountable?

  4. It will be interesting to see how much of those bonuses gets kicked back as donations to the Walker campaign.

    I am curious about any relationship there might be between having previously donated to Walker and receiving a bonus now? Is reporting a problem with a loan made to a Walker donor grounds for being denied a bonus? How is morale among the employees who didn't receive a bonus while they watched all the ass kissers get one?

  5. I am staggered that Scott Walker appointed someone so grossly unqualified to be Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Secretary of WEDC as Ryan Murray is. No wonder WEDC is a failure at economic growth. Instead it is a hornet’s nest of corruption and cronyism.

    Mary Burke must hold Walker accountable for his irresponsible appointments to an agency that must be a key driver to achieve Walker’s #1 campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs.

    1. I know what concerns you express are also issues being looked at.

    2. Don't take too long to look. The time is now to hold Scott Walker accountable for his gross mismanagement of Wisconsin government, and especially his nurturing of corruption wasting Wisconsin taxpayer money to feed his political coffers.

      Not only should Mary Burke's campaign be doing this, but so should the Federal Department of Justice. Wisconsin has a Blagojevich as governor.

    3. Are you speaking of the Obomba/Holder DoJ? Wall St banker's buddies who have left all major financial fraud (national and international) completely untouched and thriving?

  6. In late February the group Citizen Action of Wisconsin released a report on WEDC that identified the disproportionate favoritism in their working with businesses in legislative districts held by Republicans.
    Some of their findings:
    Republican Assembly districts have close to twice as many jobs projected as Democratic Assembly districts (86% more, or 389 more jobs projected on average).
    The average number of jobs projected in Republican Senate districts is more than twice that of Democratic districts (102% more, or 1,187 more on average).
    There is 1 job allegedly impacted for every 166 Milwaukee County residents, while in heavily conservative Waukesha county 1 job is allegedly impacted for every 36 residents.
    In one Assembly district, over 6,000 jobs were projected while in 14 districts no jobs are projected. That district happens to be held by Republican Assembly Majority Leader Bill Kramer.
    You can find the report at:

  7. Am I correct that Brightstar is a "Shark Tank" kind of thing, where rich people throw their money in (and get a nice tax write-off), and then this board (of whom Ryan Murray is a part of) decide where to send the money to help with?

    Gee, there are no possibilities of corruption and backroom deals with THAT, is there? The more you peel WEDC's onion, the more it stinks.

    1. You have to hand it to Republicans for being real creative looting the taxpayer coffers, while making the lucre tax deductible.

  8. In a related story, Uppity Wisconsin reports that Kestrel Aircraft in Superior hasn't paid back a dime of the $4.4 million WEDC loaned out to it over 2 years ago. Walker made a big show out of the 600 jobs this company promised to bring up North in 2012, but they're pretty quiet about it now.

    Keep this in mind when you see ULine and other Walker donors make their "job announcements" over the next 5 months. Saying you'll do something is a whole lot different than actually doing it.

    1. I have to admit, I'm surprised that Walker and his major donors and ideological backers are just figuring this out. Since he never gave a clue about how he was planning to fulfill his 250,000 new jobs pledge I figured he had a backroom deal going with some deep-pocketed employers -- Walker inaugurated and then, wham!, WMC member after WMC member suddenly discovers that they need a few hundred more people to work phones or build widgets.

      When that didn't happen it began to occur to me that Scott Walker really didn't have a clue about how to run an economy. Then it became clear that his real plan was to pretend to balance the state budget by squeezing state workers, teachers and local government employees and I knew we were sunk. What business invests in a state run by a liar who's more interested in political gamesmanship than building (or re-building) a sound, solid economy? Not too many, as it turns out, and plenty headed in the opposite direction.

      Say what you will about Mary Burke, at least she has an economic plan that makes economic sense.

  9. It really should be no surprise how WEDC operates after reading the mission statement and core values that Scotty lifted from Corporate Operations for Dummies. Nowhere in the mission statement or core values does it mention any responsibility to citizen taxpayers.

    This core value is blatantly telling in who is held in high regard:

    "ACCOUNTABILITY. We will honor our commitments to ourselves, our partners, and our investors."

    Sure, you could say that the "investors" are taxpayers, but in light of how the Republican Political Money Laundering Machine operates, you should know by now that "ourselves, our partners, and our investors" does not include the average citizen of Wisconsin. This is a private club.

    • Monttreal Hammer