On Tuesday afternoon, State Representative Barnes delivered a letter to Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, urging him to direct the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, WEDC, for misuse and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars.Of course, AG Good Hair isn't going to do a damn thing because he is as corrupt as the rest of the Republicans, but this is something that needed to be done long ago and needs to be done repeatedly.
Last week the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau unveiled its audit of the quasi-governmental agency, and revealed that the agency has been handing money to ineligible recipients for ineligible projects, as well as allowing their staff to purchase alcohol, football tickets, and gift cards.
“If our state government is claiming that it’s targeting waste and fraud, and then passing legislation that doubles-down on SNAP benefit recipients, I am confident our Attorney General will direct the Justice Department to investigate individuals who are buying gift cards, booze and football tickets and letting Wisconsin taxpayers foot the bill. I am sure there are a lot of men and women who are out of work who would love to buy a six pack of beer and be able to afford tickets to watch our Badgers play football. But the reality is people are having a hard enough time paying bills. This is an egregious slap in the face.
“My letter was very straight forward. If this was somebody selling food benefits for cash, they would likely be prosecuted. Since its creation, WEDC has been the standard-bearer for incompetence in regards to its mission, and as a steward of taxpayer dollars.”
See Rep. Barnes' Letter Below:
May 7, 2013
The Honorable J.B. Van Hollen
Attorney General, State of Wisconsin
Room 114 East, State Capitol
Madison, Wisconsin, 53707
Attorney General Van Hollen:
On behalf of the residents of Wisconsin’s 11th Assembly District, I write today to request that an investigation into the mishandling and misuse of funds by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) be initiated by your office, and that subsequent charges be filed by your office on behalf of the taxpayers of the State of Wisconsin.
As you likely know, a recent audit of WEDC was conducted by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau. The audit concluded that WEDC, at the expense of taxpayers, provided ineligible amounts of funds to ineligible recipients, and for ineligible projects. In fact, four companies received nearly $1 million of taxpayer dollars before their contracts with the State of Wisconsin had even been finalized.
In possibly the most egregious misuse of taxpayer dollars, WEDC staff actually used agency credit cards for the purposes of purchasing alcohol, football tickets, and gift cards while Wisconsinites across our state continue to struggle in making ends meet from day-to-day. If this is somehow less illegal that a FoodShare recipient selling their food benefits for cash, I would ask that you please refer me to the statutory language that distinguishes this difference. Respectfully, if this was 100 dollars in food stamps, instead of hundreds of thousands of dollars to an agency, it would result in a prosecution and likely jail time.
Recently, legislation passed the Assembly regarding the illegal trafficking of SNAP benefits in the name of reducing fraud. The passage of this bill truly raises the questions; does our state government only wish to protect taxpayers from fraud and misuse by those who receive public benefits, and will we again turn a blind eye towards the mismanagement of extremely large dollar amounts by a state agency that has, since its inception, proved itself incompetent of acting as a steward or recipient of taxpayer dollars.
Thank you for your consideration on this matter. I, as well as the residents of the 11th Assembly District, eagerly await action from your office.
11th Assembly District
Gotta build up the case of J.B. Van Hollen's ineptness and corruptness and then take it to the next level.