September 22, 2015
Executives from Kohl’s Department Stores contributed about $6,200 to Republican Gov. Scott Walker since the beginning of 2012. The company was awarded a $62.5 million package of state tax credits in 2012 to create jobs and build a headquarters that haven’t materialized.
The state contract with Kohl’s, which was the largest subsidy awarded so far by the Walker administration, was also among more than two dozen state awards given to businesses between 2011 and 2013 that did not get a state review. The agreement called for the Menomonee Falls-based national retail chain to create 3,000 jobs and build a new $250 million headquarters.
But three years into its contract, Kohl’s has created a net of only 473 of the 3,000 jobs promised, and instead of building a new headquarters, the company acquired and renovated space near its current suburban Milwaukee headquarters. The state contract with Kohl’s for the full $62.5 million is valid until 2023. So far Kohl’s has received about $18.3 million in tax credits for its job creation efforts and capital project.
The state aid to the companies was provided by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which Walker created after he was elected governor in 2010 to be the state’s lead economic development and jobs creation agency. But WEDC has been criticized in numerous state audits and media reports since it was created for failing to properly award, document and track millions of dollars in state aid to businesses.
Walker’s $6,200 in campaign contributions from Kohl’s executives between January 2012 and December 2014 compares to only $1,200 he received from company employees in 2011 and 2010, when he was first elected governor.
Top Kohl’s contributors to the governor between January 2012 and December 2014 were: Bernard Powers, of Hartland, a senior vice president, and Jason Miller, of Cedarburg, vice president of construction, $1,000 each; and Brian Zemple, of Wauwatosa, vice president of finance, and his wife, Jill, $662.
In addition to Walker, Kohl’s executives also contributed nearly $3,300 between January 2012 and December 2014 to legislative and statewide candidates.