- Associated Press - Friday, September 19, 2014
Burke fires consultant over jobs plan copying

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Democratic candidate for Wisconsin governor Mary Burke said Friday she cut ties with a consultant she blames for copying several sections of her jobs plan from platforms of other Democrats.

Burke has built her campaign around the jobs issue. One of her key arguments is Republican Gov. Scott Walker doesn’t deserve re-election because he hasn’t lived up to his promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs, and Wisconsin is lagging other states in adding workers.

Burke told The Associated Press it was her decision to end the campaign’s relationship with consultant Eric Schnurer of the Pennsylvania-based consulting firm Public Works, who provided the material.

“He should not have used the exact language that he used in other plans,” Burke said.



Walker and other Republicans accused Burke of plagiarism.

“It’s a sad day for Wisconsin when the Democratic nominee for governor misleads voters by offering a plagiarized jobs plan, in which she has staked her entire candidacy,” Walker campaign manager Stephan Thompson said in a written statement.

Burke said she was clear when introducing the plan in March that it included the best ideas from experts around the country about how to create jobs and spur economic development. She said that approach was taken at Trek Bicycles, the company founded in Wisconsin by her father where she worked as a top executive.

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Dane County clerk didn’t follow model ballot

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Election clerks around Wisconsin, including the Democratic one in Dane County, have decided not to use a model ballot for the November election that’s being challenged by Republicans as confusing and benefiting Democrats.

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said Friday that he decided to use a ballot with shading to differentiate the offices and candidates, as has been done for years. The new model ballot offered by the Government Accountability Board no longer has the shading or a line after the title of the office and the name of the first candidate.

A lawsuit filed this week by Republican legislative leaders contends the elections board has the power to reject ballots that deviate from that model, and it should redraft the model to make it less confusing.

McDonell said board staff advised him to make changes to his ballot, some of which he did. But he rejected their advice to remove the shading from the boxes indicating which office was being elected because he thought the ballot was more confusing without the shading.

“The point is you want to be able to know when you’re leaving one category and going to the next,” McDonell said. “I thought the shading made it easier.”

McDonell said GAB staff don’t have the authority to tell him what ballot to use.

Board director Kevin Kennedy said he couldn’t say much about the issue because of the pending lawsuit.

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Economic agency lacked spending documentation

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin’s semi-private job creation agency lacked supporting documentation justifying spending on expenses and grants during the first two years of its existence, according to a report released Friday.

The Legislative Audit Bureau’s report examined the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s finances over fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13. Auditors found the agency’s spending on administrative expenses such as salary, marketing and travel grew from $11.2 million in the first year to $15.1 million in the second.

Auditors reviewed 223 non-payroll administrative expenditures and found instances where spending wasn’t adequately documented to show what spending occurred, whether it was reasonable or whether it was approved. Some expenditures should have been recorded in different accounts or weren’t recorded consistently with similar types of spending. For example, $50,000 spent under a grant agreement was recorded as a services expenditure, the report said.

Spending on grants to businesses, economic development organizations and local governments grew from $14.7 million to $15.2 million during the time period, the report said. Auditors reviewed 44 grant expenditures and discovered errors in processing and that some supporting documentation wasn’t adequate. For instance, documentation for two grant expenditures didn’t include disbursement requests WEDC had approved.

The report noted the agency has corrected the processing errors and set up a new tracking system that will allow transactions to be uploaded directly into the agency’s accounting system, reducing the chance for mistakes.

Gov. Scott Walker created WEDC, a public-private partnership, to replace the state Commerce Department in 2011. The agency was beset with problems from the start, including not tracking past-due loans, leadership turnover and highly critical audits that revealed mismanagement at the agency.

The report also noted the agency was responsible for $60.5 million in loans to businesses and economic development organizations over the two fiscal years. Nearly 75 percent of those loans were awarded by the Commerce Department, the report noted.

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Purdue shooter sentenced to 65 years in prison

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - An Indiana man who admitted fatally stabbing and shooting a fellow Purdue University student inside a crowded classroom was sentenced Friday to the maximum 65 years in prison after telling a judge he lied about being mentally ill.

Tippecanoe Superior Court Judge Thomas Busch cited Cody Cousins’ lack of remorse, the viciousness of the Jan. 21 attack on Andrew Boldt and Cousins’ apparent pride in Boldt’s death in rejecting the defense’s request that Cousins be found guilty but mentally ill.

“That’s not insanity. That’s not mental illness,” Busch said, calling the slaying a “crime of hatred” and likening it to the biblical story of Cain and Abel.

Both Cousins and Boldt were teaching assistants in Purdue’s electrical engineering program at the time of the attack.

Prosecutor Pat Harrington said Cousins, who had struggled in some classes and left Purdue at one point, envied Boldt, whom witnesses described as a humble man and top student.

“Andrew was everything he was not,” Harrington said.

Boldt, of West Bend, Wisconsin, was shot five times, including three times in the face, and suffered 19 cuts as horrified students looked on.

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