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WEDC Democrats ask for federal investigation

UPDATE 5:46 pm:

Governor Walker's office released an additional statement regarding the BCI loan, and comments made by Rep. Barca and Sen. Lassa. His office issued the following, \"Governor Walker has asked WEDC to add a discussion of the awards administration process, including the BCI loan, to the next board meeting agenda. There should be an open, thorough, and transparent discussion of this topic, and the appropriate place to address recent concerns raised by two board members is at a full meeting of the board.\"

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A $500,000 dollar loan of taxpayer money is up in flames according to a Wisconsin State Journal report. That loan was from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to a now non-existent Milwaukee company.

Governor Scott Walker created WEDC as a public private partnership in 2011, to replace the Department of Commerce.

Monday Democratic legislators are asking for the feds to step in to investigate possible WEDC corruption.

It's a move Walker's office calls nothing more than a political stunt.

A 2011 email between a Department of Administration employee and former D.O.A. Secretary and Walker's Chief of Staff refers to funding for the now non-existent Builders Corporation Inc. It was Milwaukee based company that was going to help bank and credit union buildings go green.

The company was eventually awarded a $500,000 loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. It's money that hasn't come back to the state in any way because the loan had no protection built in according to the State Journal.

\"It's essential we have a federal investigation, an independent investigation to analyze if in fact there's wrongdoing, if in fact there's corruption.\" said Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), a WEDC board member.

Monday, Barca was joined by fellow Democrat board member Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point), they blasted the job creation organization for handing out the taxpayer funded loan. The Wisconsin State Journal reports Walker's staff applied pressure to make that loan happen.

\"This is a loan that shouldn't have been granted where the underwriters were overruled.” Lassa said.

Democrats point to the fact that BCI's owner donated a maximum $10,000 to Walker's campaign in 2010. Records also show the owner donated the same amount to former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle a year and a half earlier.

Walker, who serves as chairman of the WEDC board, knew nothing about the loan to BCI before it was awarded according to an email sent by a spokesperson Laurel Patrick. In an email Patrick wrote, \"Governor Walker has not met with Mr. Minahan [BCI's owner]. Furthermore, he was not involved in or aware of any part of the loan process concerning The Building Committee, Inc. In addition, neither Governor Walker nor former DOA Secretary Huebsch were aware of any contribution to FOSW [Friends of Scott Walker campaign].\"

A WEDC spokesman says the organization is using every possible method to try and collect on that $500,000 loan. In an email he wrote, \"WEDC has pursued and is continuing to pursue all methods possible of collecting the BCI loan. From the time the loan was issued, WEDC diligently monitored and tracked this loan, and when it became clear BCI was unable to secure funding to repay the loan, WEDC aggressively pursued repayment, declared the loan to be in default, and ultimately secured a legal judgment against the company. We are continuing our efforts to have that judgment enforced. The decision to write off the BCI loan was included in a report that was presented to the full WEDC Board on Oct. 21, 2014.\"


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