Democrats on WEDC board express concerns ahead of Foxconn vote

Vos criticizes Wachs for "politicizing" process
Democrats on WEDC board express concerns ahead of Foxconn vote

A democratic state representative who was recently appointed to the board of the state’s job creation agency said he’ll vote against a contract to bring a Taiwanese technology company to Wisconsin.

Rep. Dana Wachs, D-Eau Claire said, after reviewing the 29-page contract, that he will not vote for the contract, which includes $3 billion in incentives to bring a 20-million-square-foot facility to produce LCD display screens to the Racine area.

“I read the contract. I’m under confidentiality obligations so I can’t go into great detail,” Wachs said in an interview with News 3. “I am against this deal. It’s too much money being spent, $3 billion being invested in one company deep within one industry, is just too much.”

Wachs called for the public to be able to see the contract before the vote is held by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation board Wednesday afternoon.

WEDC secretary and CEO Mark Hogan made the full contract available to board members rather than a summary after requests from legislative leaders and the governor.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, told reporters Tuesday that he felt having the board see the contract was sufficient, and criticized Wachs appointment to the board, as he is currently a Democratic candidate for governor.

“I think that we now see that unfortunately the assembly democrats decided to do a bait and switch where they took somebody off, Peter Barca, who knows exactly what’s in there, has been involved in the process for literally months,” Vos said Tuesday. “At the last minute they decided to insert a critic who is doing things for his own political purposes to increase his profile in a campaign for governor against Governor Walker.”

Wachs defended his position on the board and said he’s been working his way through the contract documents.

“I’m digging my way through it and that’s what I’ve done for a living for 31 years is dig my way through very complex situations and deals,” Wachs said. “I think I’m qualified to do this, without question.”

Late Tuesday, WEDC board member Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, said he had still not had a chance to read the contract and planned to do so after the Senate session finished Tuesday evening.

“I have not had the opportunity to read and make an informed decision on Foxconn to see if it definitely protects taxpayers,” Carpenter said in a statement Tuesday.

The board delayed a vote on the contract last month after WEDC officials alerted board members of an unspecified problem. Carpenter said then that questions were raised about whether taxpayer funds could be exposed if Foxconn doesn’t fulfill the deal but he didn’t elaborate.

Carpenter first said Tuesday that he was reviewing the contract language and he thought it looked as if it had been revised to “defuse the nuclear bomb.” He later clarified that he hasn’t had time to read the language closely and WEDC officials are still changing the terms.

The WEDC board will vote on the contract Wednesday afternoon, and a copy of the contract is expected to be made public following the vote.