MADISON (WKOW) -- The same agency that suspended its affordable loans due to the recession last year, threw a fancy holiday party for employees this year.
The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, or WHEDA, invited 150 employees to the Monona Terrace last week for its annual "employee appreciation dinner."
According to expense reports, WHEDA paid $7,000 to rent a ballroom, $1,400 for a flower arrangement, and $800 to a Madison DJ. WHEDA also paid a Madison catering company $1,694 for a brunch the next morning.
"We feel strongly in applauding the work our employees do," said WHEDA spokeswoman Kate Venne. "They were all able to take those flowers home as another little 'thank you.'"
State Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) sits on WHEDA's board of directors. He was not invited to the party and is calling on the agency to never do this again.
"They need to pay more attention to what they're spending," Grothman told WKOW. "Let's face it. The guy who approved $1,400 for flowers, who knows what else he's approving?"
WHEDA made no apologies for the flowers -- or the other $8,000 in expenses -- and said it would do it all over again if it could.
"I think we would," said Venne. "Our employees are worthy of it."
WHEDA pointed out it earns money from bond sales and other means, not from taxpayers. The agency does still contribute to the state's general fund.
WKOW contacted 20+ other state agencies. No one else fessed up to spending taxpayer money on holiday parties except for Governor Jim Doyle's office. The Governor invites his staff to the executive residence for a reception every December.
All other agencies told WKOW they have potluck dinners or simply no holiday events at all.
According to the Dept. of Administration, there are no administrative rules or procedures regarding holiday parties or using public money to fund holiday parties.
If you've been invited to a state party, contact Dan Cassuto at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (608) 273 2727.
Online reporting by Dan Cassuto, email@example.com
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2013 WorldNow and WKOW. All Rights Reserved.
Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Program Manager Jessica Miller at 608-661-2794. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.