I-Team: Buried in the Bill Part 2
Now, part two of a big I-Team investigation. It has to do with the billionaire Koch brothers and Governor Walker's budget repair bill.
We showed you how a few lines buried in that bill could pay off big for one of his biggest campaign contributors. Now, Koch Industries and the Governor's office are speaking out about this controversy.
Protesters at Saturday's rally in Madison told Governor Walker to "Kick the Koch Habit," calling out billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch.
Last year, Koch Industries' political action committee gave Walker's campaign $43,000, Walker's second highest contribution. The budget bill that prompted protests allows the state to
"Sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without the solicitation of bids."
On Tuesday, Koch Industries fired back. In an email, Philip Ellender, President of Government and Public Affairs for Koch Companies Public Sector told the I-Team, the company doesn't want our power plants, and "Any allegations to the contrary are completely false."
Ellender continued, "A balanced budget will benefit our company and its nearly 3,000 Wisconsin employees no more and no less than the rest of the state's private-sector workers and employers."
A spokesman for Governor Walker fired off an email, too, saying "State government shouldn't be in the business of running heating plants."
It's a position Republican lawmakers support.
"I think given choice of spending hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to repair them, or hopefully hundreds of millions of dollars of private sector money, I think the answer might be obvious," said Rep. Robin Vos of Burlington.
But Ellender said that money won't come from Koch, and calls Wisconsin's budget battle a dispute between unions and elected leaders.
Ellender wrote, "Unfortunately, there are those who would prefer to portray it as something else entirely."
Still, others point to a new Koch Industries public affairs office just one block from the Capitol as a sign the company is trying to pull strings here. Keep in mind, Koch Industry's PAC also gave a million bucks to the Republican Governor's Association last year, which spent a ton of money on TV ads in Wisconsin, and just today, the RGA launched a new pro-Walker website.