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The Legislative Audit Bureau found the Department of Revenue did not follow eligibility requirements when distributing COVID-19 relief grants to 45 businesses.

The nonpartisan audit agency reviewed 172 grants out of nearly 100,000 awarded to small businesses, restaurants and lodging, representing $4.1 million out of the total $596 million.

The LAB cautioned that the review was not based on a randomly selected or statistically valid sample.

“It is not appropriate to extrapolate the results of our review to all grants that DOR awarded,” LAB wrote in the Nov. 29 report.

In a statement, the Republican leaders of the Legislature’s audit committee reiterated that the LAB’s findings are not representative of all grants awarded. Revenue Secretary Peter Barca noted the 172 grants are “less than 0.2% of those issued.”

Barca told auditors the Revenue Department “successfully stopped 28,605 fraudulent grants” and was recovering the $475,000 in improperly awarded funds.

Sources

Wisconsin Legislature: Legislative Audit Bureau: We’re All In and Wisconsin Tomorrow Programs

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: State audit says 45 pandemic grants went to ineligible businesses, a small fraction of overall assistance

WisPolitics: Sen. Cowles: Audit reviews the We’re All In and Wisconsin Tomorrow grant programs

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Hope Karnopp / Wisconsin WatchReporting intern

Hope Karnopp joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in May 2022. She is a journalism major and is pursuing certificates in public policy and environmental studies at UW-Madison. Hope previously covered state politics as an intern for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She also works with the Daily Cardinal and hosts a radio segment about campus news for WORT-FM, which has been recognized by the Milwaukee Press Club.