Foxconn Judge Was Former Walker Aide
And donor to GOP candidates. His ruling allows huge drawdown of Lake Michigan water by Foxconn.
A state administrative law judge who ruled in favor of a plan to take up to 7 million gallons of water a day from Lake Michigan mostly for a massive Foxconn manufacturing plant was a former aide to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
The judge, Brian Hayes, who is administrator of the state Division of Hearings and Appeals, has also contributed more than $2,100 since 1994 to Republican legislative and statewide candidates, and the state GOP, including $1,000 to former Gov. Tommy Thompson and $500 to former Gov. Scott McCallum.
Hayes’s most recent campaign contributions were $150 in October 2010 to Walker, and $25 in 2011 and $75 in 2015 to the state Republican Party.
In addition to serving as an administrative law judge, Hayes was also Walker’s budget director and an aide to former Republican Assembly Speaker John Gard. And Hayes’s Facebook page shows “likes” for GOP elected officials and groups that support Republicans, including Walker, former House Speaker Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the MacIver Institute.
Walker negotiated an agreement in July 2017 that provided Foxconn with $4 billion in state and local tax breaks and other giveaways to build a liquid crystal display manufacturing plant in Racine County. Walker frequently touted and defended the agreement, by which the company pledges to create 13,000 jobs, during his unsuccessful reelection campaign last year.
The ruling by Hayes affirmed a decision in April 2018 by the state Department of Natural Resources that was challenged by numerous environmental groups. But subsequent changes in the plan by Foxconn could mean its proposal for a 20-million-square-foot manufacturing campus could end up being just a fraction of that size, meaning the plant may never need anywhere near 7 million gallons of water per day.
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