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Lawmaker Says GE Told Him to Lie to Obscure Layoffs and Protect Subsidies

Rep. Scott Allen Statement on the closing of GE Waukesha. Disappointment was my first reaction of the news about GE shutting down its engine manufacturing functions at the Waukesha Power and Water facility. In a press release, and substantiated by my conversation with GE corporate spokesperson, Patrick Theisen, this afternoon, GE wishes to blame the problem on the House of Representatives and that body's failure to act on the U.S. Export Import Bank.

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A General Electric executive is accused of pressuring a Wisconsin legislator to blame the closing of a facility in his state on the expiration of federal subsidies in order to sway public opinion, the legislator said this week.

State Rep. Scott Allen (R-WI) said that GE government relations executive Patrick Theisen told him to blame the closing of their Waukesha manufacturing facility on the recent expiration of the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, which subsidized and financed the purchases of U.S. goods by foreign governments and corporations.

According to Allen, who represents the district where the plant was located, Theisen admitted that that explanation was a lie, and that the company has been pressing Congress to revive the Ex-Im Bank.

“Mr. Theisen was eager to connect me with his public relations department to help me gin up a press release blaming Congress and demanding they act,” Allen said. “In the same conversation, practically in the same breath, he told me that the decision on the Waukesha plant was made some time ago and that it was irreversible.”

Ex-Im expired this June after the Republican-led Congress declined to reauthorize its funding. GE is one of the largest-ever recipients of Ex-Im subsidies, which generally come in the form of loan guarantees or direct financing. As US Uncut previously reported, GE is one of the largest recipients of corporate welfare, receiving $35.8 billion in government contracts between 2000 and 2012. Before its re-authorization was denied, the Ex-Im bank had a $112 billion portfolio — 81 percent of which went to multinational corporations. Two-thirds of the money earmarked for major corporations went to just ten hugely profitable companies.

Critics pointed to Allen’s statement as evidence of a pattern of deception by GE designed to increase political pressure on Congress to reauthorize the bank after a failed lobbying effort which entailed millions of dollars changing hands with key members of Congress.

When GE announced earlier this month that it was moving hundreds of jobs to France due to Ex-Im expiration, critics pointed out that the project in question was already in the works last year.

GE currently employs 307,000 people worldwide, with only 131,000 of those in the U.S.