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Friday, August 30, 2013

Today in Wisconsin GOP corruption: handing out a half-million to cronies

Sack of money
Slate: As hunting and fishing have become less popular in the state, Wisconsin lawmakers have supported efforts to get young people more interested in outdoorsmanship. So earlier this month, the state Department of Natural Resources quietly decided to offer a $500,000 taxpayer-funded grant to a group that would advocate outdoor sports. The sole applicant and winner of the grant, the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation, has members with ties to national GOP groups, including former lobbyists for the National Rifle Association and Americans for Prosperity. For the record, the NRA donated more than $800,000 to Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign; AFP dropped $3 million.

The DNR announced the grant for hunting groups on its website but didn’t put out a press release about the application, leaving eligible groups unaware of its existence:

Reached last week, Don Kirby, executive director of the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, said he had no knowledge of the grant.
"Our organization would have been interested to pursue this," Kirby said. "I’m more than a little disappointed to find out now."
Luke Hilgemann, the former chief of staff of the Wisconsin Assembly’s majority leader, is listed as an “educator” for United Sportsmen. Hilgemann recently joined the national office of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ lobbying enterprise, after working for the group’s Wisconsin chapter. Also listed in United Sportsmen’s application is Darren LaSorte, a longtime NRA lobbyist in the state who is now based in Texas.
But at least United Sportsmen is the best, right? With a long history of experience in this sort of thing? Slate reports, “According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, United Sportsmen does not have much of a track record training sportsmen.”

So I guess that’s a no.

Handing out what amounts to no-bid contracts to reward political donors with a raid on taxpayers’ money? I believe this particular grift is known as the “Cheney/Halliburton reciprocal backscratch.” George W. Bush should sue for some sort of patent infringement.

You know what might actually get more people into the Wisconsin’s natural bounty and wouldn’t cost a half a million dollars? Not blowing that bounty up to make mines no one wants.

Nobody wants to go hunting on a slag heap or a parking lot, so maybe we should leave some sliver of nature undeveloped and as it is.

[image by 401(K) 2013]

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