WEDC/DWD award recipients hosting Walker fundraisers - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

WEDC/DWD award recipients hosting Walker fundraisers

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Nearly half of Governor Scott Walker's campaign fundraisers since April 1st have been hosted by people whose companies received financial awards from his administration.

Some call that troubling, while others say its nothing new in Wisconsin.

Jack Link, the owner of Jack Link Snacks of Minong, joins Chris Shult, the proprietor of Bevco Engineering of Waukesha County, and Jon Hammes, the developer of the Edgewater Hotel project, in hosting fundraisers for Gov. Walker within the past three months.

Each has also directly or indirectly benefited from financial awards doled out by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), which Gov. Walker chairs.

"Governor Walker shouldn't really be acting in a way that looks like there's a conflict of interest," said Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point), who sits on the WEDC Board. 

Jay Smith, the owner of Teel Plastics of Baraboo, which received a Department of Workforce Development grant in May, also hosted a recent fundraiser.

"It really does not pass the smell test, so to speak," said Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), who also sits on the WEDC Board.  "You've got so many of his last fundraisers all being hosted by people who were given taxpayer funds."

While the appearance may not be good, UW political science expert Ken Mayer says Scott Walker is hardly the first Governor to tread on such territory.

"To be sure many people will look at that and find it completely disgusting, but that's what politics has always been about," said Mayer, who claims past Governors Jim Doyle (D) and Tommy Thompson (R) faced criticisms for similar conflicts.

Gov. Walker's campaign spokesperson Alleigh Marre tells 27 News Mary Burke is also making promises of financial awards to supporters by saying if she wins the election in November, she'll increase funding for biosciences.  Burke went on a tour of Quintessence Bioscience of Madison in May.

"If she is elected, I have no doubts that in 2017 or 2016 you would see stories about Mary Burke rewarding her supporters and people will thump her on that," said Mayer.

In other words, Mayer says, get used to it.
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