Kwik Trip cashes in on Walker support

Last month, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the state’s economic development agency, announced that Kwik Trip could receive up to $21 million in income tax credits for a $300 million expansion project in La Crosse. The company claims the project will directly create more than 300 jobs. The amount of state aid the company receives depends on how many jobs the project actually creates during the next five years.Gov. Scott Walker’s administration plans to give up to $21 million in tax giveaways to Kwik Trip, a convenience store chain whose owners and employees have contributed more than $90,000 to the Republican governor.

In addition to the tax breaks, two GOP lawmakers are introducing a bill at the request of Kwik Trip that would cut administrative requirements for state alcohol and tobacco permits. The proposal would change the application process for an alcohol license and permit, and a retailer license for cigarette and tobacco products, by removing the requirement that two corporate officers sign the application and that it be notarized. Under the proposal, the applications would only need a company officer’s signature.

The measure was authored by Rep. Joan Ballweg, of Markesan, and Sen. Jerry Petrowski, of Marathon, who received contributions totaling $100 and $550, respectively, from Kwik Trip employees since January 2010.

All told, individual and corporate contributions to all legislative candidates and fundraising committees and statewide candidates from Kwik Trip owners and employees tallied about $331,400 between January 2010 and June 2017.

Topping the list of Kwik Trip individual and corporate contribution recipients was:

Walker, about $90,400;

Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, about $41,700;

GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, $22,750;

Former GOP candidate for governor Mark Neumann, about $22,100;

Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, about $21,800.

Kwik Trip owners Don and LaVonne Zietlow, of Onalaska, made about $138,300 in contributions to Wisconsin legislative and statewide candidates between January 2010 and June 2017. The Zietlows, who made all but $7,100 of their total contributions to Republican candidates, sponsored a $2,700-per-plate fundraiser in August 2016 for then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Other top Kwik Trip contributors during the period were operations vice president Steve Loehr, and his wife, Cheryl, of Onalaska, about $46,650, and chief financial officer Scott Teigen, and his wife, Carol, of Glenwood City, about $10,700.