Fitzgerald, Vos deny Foxconn exec mentioned contract renegotiation in meeting

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos are denying a Foxconn exec indicated in a meeting last month that the Taiwanese manufacturer wanted to renegotiate terms of the up-to-$3 billion state incentive package.

Gov. Tony Evers released a letter yesterday to Louis Woo indicating it was the special assistant to Foxconn’s chair and CEO who first brought up changing terms of the deal last month. He also wrote in the letter that he understood that Woo also expressed that desire to Fitzgerald and Vos.

Foxconn, meanwhile, said it isn’t wavering from its commitment to the contract with the state. But it didn’t address the contents of Evers’ letter, which came after GOP leaders criticized the guv.

Evers said last week it was unrealistic to believe the company was going to hit its original goal of creating 13,000 jobs. And he said he was looking at renegotiating terms of the contract, prompting criticism from Fitzgerald and Vos that he was trying to undermine the deal.

In the letter, Evers wrote Woo suggested last month Foxconn would seek changes to “better align the terms with the evolving project and global marketplace.”

But Fitzgerald had a different story.

“I met with Louis Woo for thirty minutes, and there was no discussion about opening up the contract for renegotiation, just general discussion about Foxconn’s expansion and growth,” Fitzgerald said. “This contract is solid — if the job growth and investment doesn’t come, the state doesn’t pay.”

Foxconn said in a statement it still intends to create 13,000 jobs and make Wisconsin a global technology hub. The statement added the company has conducted both “routine engagement and good faith discussions” with the Evers administration on “areas of flexibility within the existing agreement” to make sure it’s positioned for long-term success.

“As previously stated, we remain committed to continuing to work with Governor Evers and his team in a forthcoming and transparent manner, and remain open to further consultation, collaboration, and new ideas,” the company said.

Vos told WisPolitics.com Woo “never talked about any of the things Evers suggested.”

In a text message, Vos wrote the company exec was positive and upbeat in his update on how things are going.

“As I said before, if it’s about making the deal more workable to achieve the contract, of course we should be open to discussing it, but why would we back away from the job creation requirements or taxpayer protections?” Vos wrote.

In a tweet late last night, Vos asked, “Why are the mainstream media allowing @GovEvers to try and create the impression that #Foxconn wanted to change their job goals or tax incentives? #nottrue”

But Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, ripped Vos, saying he has been trying to mislead the public. Last week, Vos charged Evers was “naive” for his comments about renegotiating the deal.

“Governor Evers is continuing his good faith effort to work with Foxconn to get the best possible deal for the people of Wisconsin,” Hintz said. “Representative Vos’ efforts to mislead and misinform are both embarrassing and counterproductive. His failure to disclose dealings with Foxconn on possible contractual changes proves that he is not serious in wanting to work with this Administration.”

See the letter:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/190423-Evers-Foxconn-Letter.pdf

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