MADISON - The state Assembly says it won't create a bi-partisan committee to monitor Gov. Scott Walker's embattled Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
This after state Democrats and Republicans lashed out at the quasi-governmental agency Tuesday, after it was hit by a scathing report last week charging it broke state law.
"This audit was, that came out, sent a chill through my spine," State Rep. and Minority Leader Peter Barca, R-Kenosha, said Tuesday morning in Madison, flanked by Democratic legislators.
The audit Barca is referring to is one that detailed the job creation and economic growth agency broke state law, failed to properly track money and even gave awards to unqualified companies. The non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau put together the report.
Barca, who also sits on the WEDC board, says it's time for the agency to shape up; and if it doesn't, there's a chance the two-year-old agency could be replaced.
"We need more transparency in this agency, we need more accountability," said Barca.
Republican leaders say they are also concerned about the agency. However, they wouldn't say the agency isn't doing its job.
"I know that there are serious problems that exist - there's not doubt about that," explained State Rep. and Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington. "But many of them, I think, are in the process of being solved or are well over a year old, under different leadership."
Former WEDC CEO and one-time Green Bay Mayor Paul Jadin left the agency last October after 15 months on the job. He now heads a Madison-area economic development group. That – after questions were raised about how he handled incentives for a company looking to land a state contract. Interim CEO Reed Hall was named as the full-time agency head in January.
The agency is also looking for a Chief Financial Officer. Its third CFO resigned two weeks ago, after just 24 hours on the job.
Add this to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's sudden resignation of its spokesperson, John Gillespie, Monday.
Gillespie worked for WLUK-TV in the 90s. Gillespie left WEDC after it was reported he owes $36,000 in back taxes. Separately, an Outagamie County warrant seeks nearly $8,000 in unemployment compensation benefits.
He was hired to the $73,000/year post last month to help with the agency's image.
FOX 11 contacted the governor's office about the state of the WEDC. Governor Walker's press secretary Tom Evenson replied back saying:
"This is a WEDC personnel matter and I would refer you to the agency for any further comment."
A WEDC spokesman told FOX 11 the agency had no comment, on both the audit and Gillespie's resignation, only to say it is reviewing its background check procedures.
The WEDC board will meet Wednesday morning in Waukesha to discuss the audit. Walker's office says the governor plans to be there.
Then on Thursday, the Joint Legislative Audit committee is scheduled to discuss the audit and Walker's two year funding request for the agency.
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