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Governor's office, lawmakers point fingers over sportsmen's grant flap

Duck hunting (courtesy of Forest and Range.org)
Duck hunting (courtesy of Forest and Range.org)

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The governor's office and state lawmakers are blaming each other, after it was learned that the approval of a sportsmen's grant could have cost the state $28 million a year in federal funds. 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the Legislature's finance panel put the funds in jeopardy, by budgeting a half-million dollars in state and federal money which the politically-connected United Sportsmen were later awarded to promote hunting and fishing. 

Governor Scott Walker preserved the federal funds, by making a partial budget veto in which state covered the entire grant. 

Last week, Walker eliminated the grant, after questions were raised about the United Sportsmen's tax status. Now, the Journal Sentinel said the grant approval by GOP lawmakers came despite two warnings from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

That agency told the DNR that millions in federal funds could be cut off, because the state would no longer have full control of them. 

GOP finance member Luther Olsen said he never knew about the DNR's warnings until the Journal Sentinel brought them up -- and he's speechless the administration didn't say anything. 

Walker's office says the governor indeed worked with key lawmakers on the matter, and Olsen should have asked questions earlier.  

Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to do favors for political friends. Milwaukee Assembly Democrat Jon Richards called on the Justice Department to investigate to see if there was, "wrongdoing that goes beyond cronyism."

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