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State Dems Call For WEDC Head To Step Down

Barca Alleges Mismanagement, Poor Transparency Under Reed Hall's Leadership

Shawn Johnson/WPR

Democratic lawmakers are calling for the leader of Wisconsin’s flagship jobs agency to step down, saying he’s kept them in the dark about dozens of loans awarded without proper review.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca and state Sen. Julie Lassa both sit on the board of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, where they say they’re the last to find out about internal troubles. At a state Capitol news conference Wednesday, they said the last straw was a lengthy document released last week showing the state had awarded $124 million worth of grants to companies without first checking whether they were financially healthy. Barca said it was time for WEDC CEO Reed Hall to step down.

“To put it simply, I do not have confidence in Reed Hall’s ability to lead our state’s jobs agency and protect the taxpayers of Wisconsin,” Barca said.

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A spokeswoman for Gov. Scott Walker blasted Barca and Lassa for playing politics, noting that the awards in question came in WEDC’s early days, before WEDC’s oversight was improved and before Reed Hall was named CEO.