The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is under intense scrutiny as the agency finalizes a $3 billion contract with Taiwanese manufacturing company, Foxconn.
State lawmakers are asking where the agency’s money is going and if it is being held accountable for contracts made with private companies.
This week, the agency announced a lawsuit against Kestrel, an aircraft company that promised to create 600 jobs and invest $50 million in local development. In the end, the company only created 25 jobs and invested less than $2 million after WEDC awarded them $20 million loan.
Another $500,000 deal with a Milwaukee construction company went sour when the company failed to pay back the loan.
Now lawmakers want more information about WEDC policy and procedures. They denied documents to lawmakers.
Senator Kathleen Vinehout addressed WEDC at a joint audit committee hearing yesterday. She threatened to go as far as to change the law if WEDC did not turn over the documents saying, “We have a habit here at the audit committee of passing laws to get documents when agencies don’t give them to us.” She argued that as a creation of the state paid for by taxpayers, this information should be public to the people who paid for it.
One document, in particular, has to do with whether the state followed the law when it came to giving tax credits, grants and loans to companies. Vinehout says that auditors for a long time have found the WEDC has not followed the law, specifically their need to verify jobs.
Producer Alejandro Alonso Galva spoke with Senator Kathleen Vinehout about her exchange with WEDC and how she plans to move forward.