UPDATE: WEDC spokesman resigns month after hire - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: WEDC spokesman resigns month after hire

MADISON (WKOW) -- The man hired to help the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation with its public image resigned late Monday after WKOW-TV made inquiries about income tax and unemployment insurance compensation debts of close to $44,000 he owes the State of Wisconsin.

John Gillespie, who WEDC brought in as its new Public Information Officer on April 8, owes $36,047 in back taxes to the State of Wisconsin, according to the Department of Revenue's delinquent taxpayer list.

In a separate case, a court record from Outagamie County shows the Department of Workforce Development filed a warrant against Gillespie in March of 2012, seeking $7,770 for unemployment insurance compensation benefits he had improperly received.

Gillespie, who was being paid $73,000 in his first year at WEDC, had no comment about the filings Monday afternoon.

Neither WEDC nor the Governor's office has said whether they knew about Gillespie's debts to the state before WKOW inquired about them.

Tom Evenson, the spokesperson for Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin), responded to questions about Gillespie with the following statement:

"Governor Walker was not involved in this specific hiring process. This is a WEDC personnel matter and I would refer you to the agency for any further comment," wrote Evenson.

Less than 20 minutes later, WEDC Chief Operating Officer Ryan Murray responded with a statement that said: "John Gillespie resigned from WEDC today. His resignation is effective immediately."

Tuesday morning, WEDC released a statement about its background check on Gillespie.

"WEDC uses a national background search firm, National Crime Search, for all employees. The process includes a nationwide criminal background check, including felonies and misdemeanors, and a full credit check. It also includes a check of civil offences, but bases this check on the current county of residence of the employee at the time of hire. So, for an employee hired from out-of-state, civil offenses in Wisconsin will not show up in our standard background check. We are currently evaluating this process for potential changes to ensure a more complete check is conducted," the statement read.

Gillespie's resignation comes less than a week after a scathing state audit of WEDC showed the agency has violated state statute by improperly tracking the loans and job creation efforts of the companies it has awarded money to since June of 2011. The audit showed WEDC also awarded money to ineligible projects and failed to keep track of its internal spending as well.

Legislative Democrats held a news conference Tuesday morning and introduced a resolution to set up a special committee in which they say will address problems at the WEDC. They are asking their Republican colleagues to stop action on the WEDC budget before reforms have been passed to end what they call fraud, waste and abuse at the corporation.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The man hired last month to help the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. with its public image has resigned a month after he was hired.

WEDC says John Gillespie resigned Monday after WKOW-TV made inquiries about some money he apparently owes the state of Wisconsin. WKOW reports Gillespie is on the state's delinquent taxpayer list, owing about $36,000 in back taxes.

In a separate case from Outagamie County, the state Department of Workforce Development filed a warrant seeking nearly $8,000 in unemployment insurance compensation benefits he received.

Gillespie's resignation comes less than a week after a scathing state audit of WEDC. The report by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau said WEDC broke state law, failed to adequately track money it awarded for economic development projects and sometimes gave money to ineligible recipients.

A phone number for Gillespie is not listed.

Information from: WKOW-TV, http://www.wkow.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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