Hansen to Introduce WEDC Anti-Fraud Legislation

Legislation would create felonies for corporate welfare fraud

(Madison)—State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) announced plans today to introduce legislation that would make corporate welfare fraud a felony and deny further assistance to those companies for seven years.  The legislation would also create a WEDC specific waste, fraud and abuse hotline to better identify and penalize businesses and their owners who commit fraud when applying for state economic development assistance.

“Corporate welfare fraud is a serious issue that can rob taxpayers of millions of dollars in a single case.  The legislation we are proposing would put in place additional tools to weed out fraud at WEDC and once found punish those who commit it,” said Hansen, senate author of the legislation. 

The legislation, patterned after a Republican Unemployment Insurance anti-fraud bill, would create felony penalties for committing fraud in the application process and deny persons and businesses state economic development assistance for seven years.  Those who make misrepresentations or omit relevant information from applications to WEDC could also face criminal prosecution. 

“Fraud is fraud.  It doesn’t matter who is committing it.  They should be punished and the punishment should fit the crime.” 

Under the proposed legislation people who have knowledge of waste, fraud or abuse at WEDC would be able to call into a dedicated hotline at the Ethics Division of the Government Accountability Board which would then be required to forward all credible cases to local district attorneys for prosecution.

“Like we’ve seen on Wall Street, until we start treating corporate welfare fraud seriously and the people who commit it feel very real consequences there will be no end to it,” said Hansen.  “This legislation will send the message that we are serious about cracking down on those who would steal from Wisconsin taxpayers no matter how wealthy or politically connected they are.” 

Under the anti-corporate fraud legislation owners and executives of businesses that commit fraud when applying for state economic development assistance could be charged and face up to ten years in prison for each count.