Democratic leaders on WEDC board call for Hall’s resignation

Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) and Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point), the Democratic representatives on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation board, today called for WEDC Secretary and CEO Reed Hall to resign.

Barca and Lassa cited a state audit and the WEDC’s responses to it, as well as Wisconsin’s lagging jobs performance among the reasons in asking for Hall’s resignation.

Recent documents detailed the WEDC’s award made to Building Committee Inc. – which was never repaid and created no jobs.

“Board members continue to find out about problems at the agency when they are revealed in program audits and media accounts rather than the agency being forthcoming with the information,” Lassa said. “This has happened time and again. And for me the last straw was the document dump on Friday which was a clear attempt by WEDC to frustrate and subvert the ability of board members to receive complete information and factual answers to questions raised.”

On Friday, the WEDC provided nearly 1,000 pages of records that did not contain key pieces of information, according to Lassa and Barca. The records failed to include information they requested about loans made over the objections of underwriters, Community Development Block Grant activity under the WEDC and now the Department of Administration, and details of loans approved without staff review that were less than$200,000.

“I do not have confidence in Reed Hall’s ability to lead our state jobs agency and protect the taxpayers of Wisconsin,” Barca said. “Under his leadership, the board has not been given key information needed to perform our fiduciary responsibility and has actually stood in the way of our efforts to obtain records to determine whether corruption and wrongdoing occurred related to loans made to Gov. Walker’s campaign donors. As Secretary and CEO of WEDC, Reed Hall is supposed to serve the taxpayers of Wisconsin – not just protect the governor and advance his political ambitions. WEDC’s nonchalant attitude toward following the law must end with Reed Hall’s resignation.”

WEDC spokesman Mark Maley issued the following statement in response to the Democratic lawmakers’ calls for Hall’s resignation:

  • “The 27 awards without staff reviews, including BCI, were all decisioned before Secretary Hall became head of WEDC.
  • Of the $124 million in awards approved without staff reviews, Barca and Lassa – and the entire board – voted in favor of $95.5 million – or 76 percent of the total.
  • On Friday alone WEDC released nearly 1,000 pages of documents on BCI and other awards in advance of the full board’s discussion of these matters on July 20. In addition, our staff has responded promptly and thoroughly to numerous requests for additional documents from Rep. Barca and Sen. Lassa.
  • In terms of transparency, issues such as write-off, award management and WEDC operations are discussed in detail at WEDC board meetings. Rep. Barca and Sen. Lassa have every opportunity as those meeting to raise concerns, ask questions of staff, etc. – and they do so regularly.
  • Finally, the assertion that the release of these documents was a Friday afternoon “document dump” is incorrect. WEDC staff has been working diligently to compile and review those documents in advance of our board meeting, and we provided them to the board and media as soon as that review was completed. We provided the documents to the media because this matter has been in the public eye and we wanted to be as transparent as possible.”

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