At Milwaukee rally, protesters tie Foxconn under-performance to former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch

People protest with a makeshift puppet of former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and a check to Foxconn as part of a demonstration outside of Foxconn Wisconsin headquarters on East Wisconsin Ave. The Racine County Foxconn project has fallen far short of its promise of 13,000 jobs.
People protest with a makeshift puppet of former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and a check to Foxconn as part of a demonstration outside of Foxconn Wisconsin headquarters on East Wisconsin Ave. The Racine County Foxconn project has fallen far short of its promise of 13,000 jobs.

Protesters outside the Foxconn offices in Milwaukee Monday criticized former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch - and one of the GOP contenders for governor - for her support of the Racine County project.

Kleefisch deserves some blame for the under-performing project which was launched under then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a time when Kleefisch was also in office, those participating in the event said.

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Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, criticized the original Foxconn plan that would have provided $2.85 billion in state tax credits if the company met certain hiring and capital investment thresholds. Foxconn promised to hire up to 13,000 people in the state to receive the tax credits, but now says only a fraction of that many jobs will be coming.

“What's happened in this state with corporate giveaways is the worst I’ve ever seen,” Sinicki said. “What I’ve seen through the Walker, Kleefisch years of administration is nothing but corporate giveaways and corporate greed. And if we don’t get out and vote in November, we’re going to see more of it.”

Representative Christine Sinicki speaks as part of a demonstration outside of Foxconn Wisconsin headquarters in Milwaukee Monday. Sinicki criticized former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch for supporting the project which has fallen far short of job creation promises.
Representative Christine Sinicki speaks as part of a demonstration outside of Foxconn Wisconsin headquarters in Milwaukee Monday. Sinicki criticized former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch for supporting the project which has fallen far short of job creation promises.

In April 2021, Gov. Tony Evers announced that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. agreed to a new deal with Foxconn that would provide up to $80 million in tax credits if the company hired 1,454 people by 2025.

“Under Evers’ plan there’s much more accountability, I believe,” Sinicki said. “That’s what I was told by people involved in (the negotiation).”

Alec Zimmerman, spokesman for the Kleefisch campaign, said Foxconn is receiving more tax credits under Evers than Walker.

"If the unions and liberals don’t like Foxconn they should talk to Tony Evers. Under the deal Evers negotiated, Foxconn now receives $30 to $80 million in state tax dollars. The previous contract would have given them $0.”

In December, WEDC announced Foxconn qualified $28.8 million in tax credits under the new deal.

Speakers tied the Foxconn project to Walker's failed job creation campaign promise.

When Walker campaigned for office in 2010, he promised that the state economy would add 250,000 jobs during the first four years of his administration. The number of jobs created, however, fell far short of that goal.

Sinicki said Kleefisch and members of the Walker administration were so eager to reach that 250,000 job number that they agreed to a deal with a company they knew wouldn’t deliver.

“I think it was intentional,” Sinicki said. “I think between her and Walker, they were so anxious to hit that 250,000 (job) mark, they were willing to do anything."

One of the speakers at the event was former Democratic congressional candidate Randy Bryce, who ran for Congress in 2018 to represent Wisconsin’s 1st District.

“We know that this was a political stunt from the very beginning,” Bryce said adding Walker and then-House Speaker Paul Ryan went to the White House to announce with then-President Donald Trump that Foxconn would be coming to Wisconsin.

“They were talking about creating the ‘eighth wonder of the world.’ This huge fantastic factory that was going to bring jobs and prosperity for everybody for decades to come at this place called Foxconn. Instead, we got Foxconned.”

Bryce lost to Republican Congressman Bryan Steil.

The other candidates for the GOP nomination for governor are management consultant Kevin Nicholson and state Rep. Tim Ramthun.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Protesters criticize Kleefisch for supporting Foxconn project