The mainstream media finally caught on that something wasn't up to snuff and did something I had thought they might have forgotten how - investigative journalism.
First, it was found that the group misrepresented itself, claiming to have a tax-exempt status which they do not have:
The group, which has close ties to Republican politicians and other conservative organizations, now says its president, Andy Pantzlaff, was confused when he told state committee last week that United Sportsmen had been approved by the federal Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. United Sportsmen has also stated that on its letterhead in a letter to the state.Despite this, Walker's DNR toady Cathy Stepp sent them a check for $50,000 anyway.
"Mr. Pantzlaff did not speak directly with the foundation’s counsel concerning the 501(c)(3) status, and was mistaken about the exemption process," a statement issued by the group reads. "There was no intent to mislead anyone and, in fact, the 501(c)(3) is not required for the purposes of the current grant application with the state of Wisconsin. The foundation apologizes for any confusion caused by this misunderstanding."
It was also learned that Andy Pantzlaff, president of the fraudulent group was convicted of hunting without the proper license. Keep in mind that the money-give away to this group was so that they could teach people how to hunt properly. That would be like Robin Vos and Michele Litjens teaching people how to preserve their marriages through fidelity.
Finally, one of Walker's handlers must have finally smacked him up side the head and pointed out that this was becoming rather problematic and would have a negative effect on both of his campaigns (gubernatorial and presidential). I say this because Walker reluctantly announced that he was stopping the taxpayer-funded campaign revenue stream (emphasis mine):
Gov. Scott Walker late Thursday canceled a controversial $500,000 grant to a sportsmen's group with little training experience but close ties to GOP politicians.This will not do. This group, especially its leader, committed fraud. They should not only not get the money, they need to return the $50,000 that Stepp already gave them. Furthermore, because they tried to commit fraud, they need to be charged for the crime - and in a real court of law, not one of the DNR's rinky dink slap-on-the-wrist pantomimes.
The decision was announced only hours after the Journal Sentinel asked state officials about a 2005 case in which the president of the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation Inc. was cited for hunting with an improper license.
In a statement, Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp said she spoke with Walker on Thursday and he canceled the grant to United Sportsmen, which had been aimed at promoting the state's sporting heritage. Instead, Walker ordered the DNR to find other means to achieve that goal.
"We also agreed that it is essential for any organization that receives financial support from the state to have the trust of the public in its capabilities to produce concrete results. Even though United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation Inc. did and does still meet the statutory criteria established by the Legislature for the grant award, the governor asked me to not finalize the grant award. I will honor this request and fully support this decision," Stepp said.
Don't hold your breath for that to happen any time soon. Under the current regime, corruption is not only acceptable, it is encouraged.
Ah, but wait, there's more. There's always more.
As I pointed out in my article, as Walker was trying to arrange this money-laundering scheme, he was also manipulating things so that this false front group would have digs in the Mackenzie Center.
Sure enough, the same DNR that was going to give the fraudsters all that money had decided to deny the bid from Wisconsin Wildlife Federation - the only bid they received - to keep running the center (again, emphasis mine):
The Department of Natural Resources has rejected the only bid it received - from current tenant Wisconsin Wildlife Federation - to run the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center in Poynette.Wow! Now isn't that just coincidental!
Instead, the agency will run the facility itself, according to a Thursday statement.
And contrary to its stated intentions when it opened the bid process in February, the DNR will very likely increase its spending on the center, an agency official acknowledged.
The DNR said to "address a nationwide decline in hunting, angling and trapping, we will begin work to develop a new outdoor skills curriculum" at the center.
And don't think for a minute that this is over.
Given Walker's modus operandi, he will find another patsy in the legislature to again get this money to be secretly sent to another front group, in the hopes that they can continue with the plan of using it for political purposes.
Heck, the way things are going in this state, I wouldn't be surprised if someone goes to the Mackenzie Center on January 2nd and find some private security guards walking around in camouflage and with assault rifles. And I wouldn't be surprised if the corporate media turns its collective head and whistles while it looks the other way.