Did Foxconn Violate State Lobby Law?

August 11, 2017

State lobby law requires businesses, groups and other special interests to register with the state after communicating with state elected officials on proposed rules or legislative bills if they do so on five or more days during a six-month period.

Lobbying law does not require those who seek a contract or a grant with the state to register as a lobbying group unless or until they attempt to influence the development or drafting of legislation to enable the contract to be implemented.

So the question is when did the development and drafting of the Foxconn deal legislation start?

This is what we know:

  • In testimony last week at a legislative hearing on the measure, Special Session Assembly Bill 1, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) Secretary Mark Hogan said the first meeting on the Foxconn project took place on April 28 in Washington, D.C. WEDC is the Walker administration’s economic development agency.
  • On July 27, Gov. Scott Walker executed a memorandum of understanding with the company that outlined the terms and responsibilities for an agreement, via legislation, between the state and Foxconn for its proposed Wisconsin manufacturing facility.
  • The bill was introduced Aug. 1 by the Assembly Committee on Organization at the request of Walker.
  • Detailed fiscal estimates and reports by six different state agencies on the bill’s tax, transportation, and environmental costs were issued Aug. 3.
  • Foxconn registered as a lobbying group on Aug. 3 as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.

It would seem that a legislative proposal as large and sweeping as the corporate welfare and environmental rollback measure for Foxconn, which registered in favor of the bill after the measure’s Aug. 1 introduction, would have taken weeks to develop and draft, and would have been done with the company’s input.

Shortly after the bill’s introduction, more than a dozen trade groups representing business, manufacturing, real estate, transportation, construction, and banking interests, among others, registered in support of the bill.