MADISON (WKOW) -- A liberal advocacy group reports that nearly 60 percent of the financial assistance money awarded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has gone to businesses whose owners or employees have donated money to the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) or the Republican Governors Association (RGA).
WEDC officials do not dispute that statistic, but insist "contributions absolutely play no role in determining which companies receive awards from WEDC."
One Wisconsin Now found that 192 donors associated with businesses receiving WEDC grants donated a total of just over $1 million directly to Gov. Walker's campaign and another $1.1 million to the RGA. The RGA is a special interest group that spent $13 million to help get Gov. Walker elected in 2010 and then defeat the recall effort in 2012.
One Wisconsin Now reports that $570 million of the $975 million in funds awarded by the state's leading economic development agency went to the companies of those donors.
WEDC Spokesperson Mark Maley said the report draws inaccurate conclusions about how and why the funds are distributed.
"In granting awards, WEDC has a thorough and transparent process that includes working with companies on developing an application, review of the application by our underwriters and other staff experts, and presenting that information to a leadership committee that meets weekly to review and approve applications," said Maley.
Maley says the awards are based on a company meeting a strict set of criteria for specific WEDC programs.
"Programs that all have been unanimously approved by our bipartisan Board of Directors," said Maley.
But One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross said he believes the numbers speak for themselves.
"Cronyism, corruption and incompetence have been hallmarks of Gov. Walker and his administration. Nowhere is that more evident than with his signature economic development initiative, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation," said Ross.
You can read the full report from One Wisconsin Now here.
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