UPDATE: Wis. Dems intro bill reworking hunting grant rules

UPDATED Wednesday, October 2, 2013 --- 10:57 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill that would rework the rules for awarding a contentious $500,000 hunting grant.

The measure would specify applicants must be nonprofit organizations that educate and recruit hunters, anglers and trappers. Winners would get a maximum $100,000 and have to submit spending reports.

The bill comes after word broke that a GOP state budget provision funneled the grant to the politically connected United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation. Gov. Scott Walker rescinded the grant last month.

Democrats said at a news conference Wednesday the bill would inject transparency into the grant process.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Juneau Republican, said Fitzgerald hadn't seen the bill and declined comment. A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Burlington Republican, didn't immediately return a message.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, September 18, 2013 --- 5:03 p.m.

MIDDLETON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says former Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder's involvement with a $500,000 grant for a politically connected group played no role in his decision to hire Suder for a state job.

Walker was asked Wednesday about whether he took into consideration Suder's role in getting language put in the budget that led to United Sportsmen of Wisconsin being awarded the grant. The Republican-connected group had Suder's former chief of staff on the board of directors.

Walker says he looked at the totality of Suder's experience, "not just any one particular item."

Walker rescinded the grant after questions were raised about the group's tax-exempt status.

Democrats on the Legislature's budget committee tried to discuss the issue Wednesday, but Republican co-chair John Nygren said it was out of order.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, September 12, 2013 --- 8:50 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state was warned twice that it could have lost $28 million in federal funding had federal money been used to pay for a controversial $500,000 grant.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released two letters from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warning that the grant would violate federal rules by removing control of the money from the DNR to the Legislature and lead to a loss in the $28 million.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports Thursday that Gov. Scott Walker's veto resulting in the state paying for the grant saved it from losing the federal funds.

The grant was awarded to the politically connected United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation, but Walker last week ordered it rescinded over questions about the group's tax-exempt status.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, September 11, 2013 --- 9:30 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker's office says his use of his veto power to change funding for a $500,000 grant later won by a politically connected group was not aimed at helping that group.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports the Republican governor used his veto power to eliminate a provision in the state budget calling for federal funds to pay for most of the grant. He left intact language saying the grant would be paid for with state funds.

Walker spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster says the veto only changed funding for the grant and had nothing to do with the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation. The group won but then lost the grant when it was revealed the group misled state officials about its tax-exempt status.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, September 6, 2013 --- 8:53 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says a $500,000 grant to a politically connected sportsmen's group has been rescinded at the request of Gov. Scott Walker.

In a statement, Secretary Cathy Stepp said Walker canceled the grant to United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, which was to recruit sportsmen and women for hunting, trapping and fishing.

The grant came under scrutiny recently after questions were raised about United Sportsmen's federal tax-exempt status. President Andy Pantzlaff assured members of the grant committee that the group had secured tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. But Wednesday, the group issued a statement saying Pantzlaff was mistaken.

The grant cancellation also came shortly after the Journal Sentinel asked state officials about a 2005 case in which Pantzlaff was cited for hunting with an improper license.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, September 5, 2013 --- 9:04 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- At least one member of the politically connected sportsmen's group awarded a $500,000 state grant knew it did not have federal tax-exempt status last week when its president assured a committee recommending approval of the grant that it did.

United Sportsmen of Wisconsin issued a statement on Wednesday saying that its president Andy Pantzlaff had not consulted with the group's attorney and "was mistaken about the exemption process."

The Wisconsin State Journal reported the comments on Thursday. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported on Tuesday that the group did not have tax-exempt status, based on records released by the state Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR released an Aug. 22 letter from the IRS denying the group's request for expedited consideration of tax-exempt status.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Posted Friday, August 30, 2013 --- 9:30 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Department of Natural Resources committee has recommended awarding a $500,000 state grant to a politically connected sportsmen's group despite questions about whether it's qualified to do the work.

The grant is to promote hunting and fishing in Wisconsin.

The committee voted 4-1 Thursday to give it to United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation. The group has ties to allies of former Republican Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, including donors, lobbyists and Suder's former chief of staff.

The DNR's chief legal counsel, Tim Andryk, says the DNR secretary now has no choice but to give the group the grant. The sportsmen foundation was the only one that applied.

Committee member Mark LaBarbera was the lone no vote. He tells the Wisconsin State Journal the grant "didn't pass the smell test."

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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