It looks to me that Mary Burke’s campaign is intentionally trolling a conservative WI businessman.
They had to know “the Koch of conservative politics in Illinois” Richard Uihlein would be perturbed to have the world learn that Democrat Burke helped them get money to move from Illinois to Wisconsin while she was Commerce Secretary under former Gov. Doyle. In the ad below she says, “We’ve reopened the mill in Park Falls, brought Uline to Kenosha, and helped entrepreneurs and new businesses start up and grow.”
And the campaign had to know Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein have given over $335,000 to Republican candidates in WI – – over 274,500 of that going to Walker since 2010.
Richard Uihlein has gone on the record as a solid supporter of limited government and free markets.
Bice says Uline accepted $18.6 million from the state gov’t in incentives over 9 years.
I’d say that Uline lost a lotta “freedom” there at great taxpayer expense.
Check it out:
Uline owner says Mary Burke exaggerates involvement in company’s jobs moves – Dan Bice – Oct. 10, 2013
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke made sure to tout her jobs records in the video announcing her candidacy this week.
“I spent a few years as Wisconsin’s commerce secretary, focused every day on creating jobs,” Burke says in the three-minute plug. “We’ve reopened the mill in Park Falls, brought Uline to Kenosha, and helped entrepreneurs and new businesses start up and grow.”
The promo piece came as a shock to one business leader: the chief executive officer of Uline Inc.
“When I saw it, I said, ‘Holy moly, what the heck is this?'” said Richard Uihlein, who with his wife, Elizabeth, owns Uline, a packaging supply company. “I don’t even know her. That’s the strange part of it.”
Uihlein said he and his wife were in touch with a lot of state and local officials when they were expanding their operations and moving the corporate headquarters to Pleasant Prairie several years ago.
The 68-year-old businessman said he met Gov. Jim Doyle at a press conference. He also chatted several times with Burke’s successor, former Commerce Secretary Richard Leinenkugel.
But Uihlein — a big-time financial supporter of Republican Gov. Scott Walker — said he never talked to or met Burke during the process. He also was not contacted by her campaign before the video was released statewide.
It’s possible, he said, that Burke played some role in the projects. But he said it would have been a very minor one.
Uihlein said he considered it “not fair” for Burke to use his corporation in her announcement.
“She really wasn’t a big-time player,” he said. “If she’s claiming she was, then she is being deceitful.”
Late Tuesday — after her campaign had initially offered only a tepid statement in response to Uihlein — Burke sent an email to No Quarter asserting her involvement in the projects.
“I was disappointed I never got the chance to meet Mr. Uihlein during the negotiations over moving his company to Wisconsin, but I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Liz Uihlein, Uline’s president, and the tour of their Illinois facility,” Burke wrote.
“My commitment as commerce secretary was to work with businesses regardless of their politics to create jobs and opportunity here in Wisconsin, and that’s exactly what I’ll do as governor.”
Not surprisingly, the head of the state Republican Party offered sharp criticism of the Burke campaign for claiming credit for the Uline moves.
“Millionaire Mary Burke’s campaign to take Wisconsin backward continues to stumble out of the gate,” said Joe Fadness, executive director of the state GOP.
To be fair, Burke doesn’t claim sole credit for the jobs created by Uline, saying it was something that “we” — presumably, members of the Doyle administration — accomplished.
Still, it was an odd decision to include Uline in the video introducing Burke to state voters.
First, she was out of office by the time the privately owned company officially announced its major move to Wisconsin.
Burke was commerce secretary from January 2005 to October 2007.
During that time, Uline announced that it was taking $375,000 in tax credits from the state Department of Commerce to double the size of its distribution center in Pleasant Prairie, a project that was estimated to cost $2.1 million.
Doyle didn’t even mention the Uline project when outlining Burke’s accomplishments in the press release announcing her departure.
In January 2008, a couple of months after she exited, Uline officials announced they were moving the corporate headquarters from Waukegan, Ill., to Pleasant Prairie and building a warehouse there. Uline said it would invest $100 million and employ 1,000 people at its 200-acre campus, which opened in mid-2010.
To help pay for the move, the company took state government incentives that were later calculated to be worth up to $18.6 million over nine years.
Along with that, Burke campaign aides had to know that the Uihleins are major Republican contributors, with Richard Uihlein earning the title in Crain’s Chicago Business last month as “the Koch of conservative politics in Illinois.”
Their giving in Wisconsin politics is just as impressive.
Overall, the Uihleinshave given $274,500 to Walker’s campaign fund since 2010. The pair took advantage of a short period of time during last year’s recall election in which the first-term Republican governor could accept unlimited donations.
According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Richard and Elizabeth have given more than $335,000 to Republican candidates in Wisconsin.
“I’m a conservative Republican, and I’m trying to help people who believe as I do in limited government and free markets,” Richard Uihlein told Crain’s last month. “I’m not one to hide from that.”
Of course, that hasn’t stopped Uline from accepting millions of dollars from Wisconsin officials.
But in an interview this week, Uihlein described himself as “disappointed” with Doyle and his administration. He said he will not be ponying up any cash for the Burke campaign.
“Again, I was quite shocked to have our name brought into her video,” Uihlein said. “We are staunch supporters of the current governor, Scott Walker.”