MADISON (AP) - A Department of Natural Resources committee has recommended awarding a $500,000 state grant to a politically connected sportsmen's group despite questions about whether it's qualified to do the work.
The committee voted 4-1 Thursday to give the grant to promote hunting and fishing to United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation. The group has ties to allies of former Republican Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, including donors, lobbyists and Suder's former chief of staff.
Mark LaBarbera cast the lone "no" vote from the Sporting Heritage Grant Committee.
"I felt that it didn't pass the smell test," he told the Wisconsin State Journal.
Tim Andryk, the DNR's chief legal counsel, said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp has no choice but to give the group the grant because a provision in the state budget requires her to issue it by Tuesday. The sportsmen's foundation was the only one to apply.
United Sportsmen president Andy Pantzlaff told committee members that board members had taught hunting and shooting courses, but he acknowledged the organization had not run any programs itself.
Scott Gunderson, DNR's executive assistant and a committee member, said the agency's staff determined the group fit the criteria for the grant.
After the vote, Stepp issued a statement acknowledging questions about the group and saying she would ensure it did the work.
"I will be inserting clear and specific language within the grant contract to ensure that desired outcomes are met in an efficient and transparent manner with ample opportunity for public scrutiny," she said. "We will work to incorporate many of the concerns and ideas we heard during today's hearing into the grant contract."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Single digit temps around the area caused problems in the Fox Valley Saturday morning.
The frigid temperatures forced some area communities to cancel their weekend Christmas celebrations. But New London braved the cold for its annual Holiday of Wonder Parade.
Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's all of the injuries, but many Packers fans are saying "no thanks," to this weekend's Packers game.
With only a little snow on the ground in places, snowmobilers are ready for more. In the Lakewood area, trails are not yet open, but clubs are gearing up for an early start to the season.
Marinette Marine is preparing to christen one of its Littoral Combat Ships.
A survey of local businesses looked at employee numbers and overall outlook for the coming year.