The Spectrum Brands State-backed Deal: Either Shameful Negligence or Shameful Dishonesty

Consider how profligate the State of Wisconsin is with public money.

Millions spent on a business relocation for a corporation that (1) withheld its identity, (2) was already in Wisconsin, (3) used flimsy worries about protests at the Capitol as way to curry favor with the Walker Administration, (4) where the head of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation now admits that the Wisconsin business’s move within Wisconsin was something he did not discuss with them.

See, from Bill Lueders at, Spectrum Deal had stealth component.

How do we know this now? Not because officials admitted it on their own — they’ve been forced to acknowledge this fiasco only after WTDY submitted a public records request for email confirming these facts.

Millions from the state, but how much did the head of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (formerly Wisconsin Dept. of Commerce) know about Spectrum Brands’ (Rayovac’s) move from Madison to neighboring Middleton with state funding?

He contends he knew only what he read after the move was announced:

Paul Jadin, CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which awarded the $4 million incentive, said in an interview Tuesday that he first learned of Spectrum’s plan to relocate to Middleton from the company’s announcement. This move was “not a part of our dialogue.”

The whole story is compelling, as Lueders shows how easily manipulated — how willing to be manipulated — public officials are.

Jadin, by the way, spoke locally at the dedication of Whitewater’s multi-million-dollar public boondoggle, the Innovation Center.

How very fitting — a local public project that used millions in public grants and debt to offer cushy new digs for existing public employees could have no better commemorator than Jadin, who either truly didn’t know to what ends millions of state dollars went, or is lying about it now.

The next time Whitewater’s city manager, having made an utter hash of ‘community development’ while acting as director of Whitewater’s CDA, tells people how proud he is to get money from Jadin’s WEDC, he might be reminded how wasteful and ill-advised those financial awards are. (See, along these lines, The Cost and Camouflage of Grants.)

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