If it's Friday, you can usually expect Scott Walker and his band of Not So Merry Men to drop some news in the garbage can that they'd like to be ignored. They're also trying to clean up as much of the mess as they can since they've been caught red-handed shoveling a half million taxpayer dollars into the hands of political cronies.
Todays Friday News Dump started with a rather innocuous tale about cancelling a half million dollar contract with a sportsmans group. The megabuck contract was another item surreptitiously dropped into the last State Budget in order to attract more people to hunting and fishing in Wisconsin. The requirements for the application left most established groups out, but did allow one group to be the lone bidder for the contract to provide outdoor training although they had little to no experience in that area.
Gov. Scott Walker late Thursday canceled a controversial $500,000 grant to a sportsmen's group with little training experience but close ties to GOP politicians.(bolding is mine)
The decision was announced only hours after the Journal Sentinel asked state officials about a 2005 case in which the president of the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation Inc. was cited for hunting with an improper license.
In the second article today:
The Republican governor canceled the $500,000 grant late Thursday after a series of revelations about the qualifications of the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation Inc., a group with little experience in outdoors training but close ties to GOP insiders. State Department of Natural Resources spokesman Bill Cosh said Friday that the cancellation was made before any final contract had been signed and or any money paid to United Sportsmen.
Republican lawmakers led by former Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder slipped the grant money into the 2013-'15 state budget this summer along with a requirement that it can be given only to groups that are "not an affiliate of a national federation or organization." That meant conservation groups such as the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and state chapters of Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation were prevented from applying for the grant.So, who are these people who run United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation Inc. and were scheduled to get that half million dollars of taxpayer money?
The Center for Media and Democracy pointed them out:
The group, United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, will spend most of the $500,000 in taxpayer dollars on salaries for Tea Party leaders who have long railed against government spending.They continue:
The group has no record on outdoors education. Their activities to date include lobbying for an array of Republican priorities, from mining to the "Castle Doctrine," and working with Americans for Prosperity to organize campaign-related events and activities.(bolding is mine)
The purpose of the grant is uncontroversial, but Assembly Majority Leader Suder narrowly crafted its requirements to make few organizations eligible besides United Sportsmen. And, the grant was opened for bidding with essentially no public notice, so groups that would have been eligible claim they never knew about it.
One of the "educators" listed in the grant is Luke Hilgemann, Suder's former Chief of Staff, who in recent years has headed the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party group founded and funded by David Koch, which purports to oppose government spending. United Sportsmen board members gave Suder $2,500 in campaign contributions last year.(bolding is mine)
In addition to Americans for Prosperity's Hilgemann, the taxpayer-funded grant will apparently pay the salary of United Sportsmen board member John Keegan * who is head of the Sauk County Tea Party. Keegan is listed as an "educator" on the grant. Another "educator" who will be funded by the grant is Annette Olson, the Americans for Prosperity "Activist of the Year" for 2012, who also leads the Tea Party groups Women United for Liberty and Uninfringed Liberty.* H/t to bcwbcw in the comments who points out that a typo was made either on the tea party website or in the Center for Media and Democracy article that was the source of the blockquote that John Keegan might be John Meegan. It might just be a typo on the groups application, as well.
Oh boy.... Can we say "scandal" now?
So, people connected with Koch-funded astroturf groups will be living large on the Wisconsin taxpayers dime.
And if that's not enough:
Both the web domain for Citizens for a Strong America and United Sportsmen were registered by an Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin staffer named John Connors.
This is a big deal so no wonder it's being dumped out on Friday. It's been bad enough to see the shenanigans at the Walker created Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) where tens of millions of tax dollars were granted or loaned to business with little to no tracking, the transfer of many Civil Service positions to Gubernatorial appointment positions with hefty salary increases given to Walker cronies, but to see grant money slipped into a budget specifically targeted to one group of political cronies with little to no experience in the contractual requirement for the contract smells of corruption at the highest level.
Even the well-trolled commentary section on the Journal Sentinel articles contain only citizen outrage on this with no appearance by the usual Walker apologists and supporters.
As Joe Biden would say, this is a BFD. Walker and the GOP want to bury it fast and deep. I hope it sticks around and leads to more revelations of the extent of the corruption in our Republican dominated state government.
Update: "It Figures" Edition: Finished watching all the local news broadcasts. What did they say about this stench of corruption. Nothing. Nada. Crickets. The big stories outside of local crime was about a Veteran who had a donation cup stolen out of his hand by a teenager and a flattering fluff piece about our dumb Senator Ron Johnson and his anti-war position.
Our local propaganda outlets are a big reason Republicans do so well here. The so called "news" never says anything bad about them.
I wonder how awful they'd have to be to get some well deserved media attention on their corruption (perhaps injuring puppies or kittens might get passed by, too) because I'm pretty sure that if this happened during the Democratic Doyle administration and an item was snuck into the budget to give a grant which would fall into the hands of, say, the Sierra Club, there would be outrage shouted from every tee vee screen in the state for weeks.
For your further entertainment, another Friday News Dump item.
In a reversal, Gov. Scott Walker's administration is acknowledging it acted improperly in retroactively raising the pay of the Capitol Police chief by 11.7% and will take back $720 from him.
The acknowledgment of a mistake comes after the Walker administration insisted it followed state rules in giving the retroactive raise to Chief Dave Erwin as part of a transfer to a phantom job and then back to his current post. State policy says pay raises to state officials can be retroactive only in very limited circumstances, such as to correct errors.
In addition to Erwin, Deputy Police Chief Dan Blackdeer was transferred to a ghost job to skirt civil service salary limits. His pay jumped by 14.6%, to $96,048, in June, but none of his increase was retroactive.Translation: Yeah, we got caught throwing a couple of our cronies into fake jobs for a week so we could massively bump their pay while holding state workers to a 1% increase (for most state workers the first increase in 4 years), most of which we'll be sucking back as premiums for their health insurance and pension plans. Heh, we're the GOP and we can do (and get away with) almost anything we want to do. Anyway, it's Friday, though, so who will notice outside a pesky reporter and a no-goodnik DK blogger. So, we'll take back the retroactive increase. Our media poodles won't report this one either.
How nice that the 2 Top Cops for the Capitol Police got a nice juicy reward for manhandling and intimidating Solidarity Singers and observers. And how very telling it is.
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