A Look Into Questionable DOT Spending on Transparency Website OpenBook

MacIver Investigation | June 18, 2015


[Madison, Wisc…] As the transportation funding debate continues to stall Joint Finance budget proceedings, the MacIver Institute decided to take a closer look at how Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation (DOT) uses taxpayer dollars.

MacIver has already pointed out wasteful projects that are happening throughout the state, including murals on the bottom of a bridge, roundabouts in the middle of nowhere and fishing piers for small towns. These sorts of undertakings give taxpayers a glimpse of the pork-like spending that DOT engages in everyday and are hard to justify in a “tight” budgetary environment.

Another way Wisconsinites can analyze the financial decisions of Wisconsin’s state government is through OpenBook, an online tool that allows users to view payments made by the state to all sorts of vendors and for all kinds of purposes. MacIver thought it would be beneficial to peruse through DOT’s spending using this tool.

According to Openbook, the DOT spent $1,905 at a company called, pardon our French, FlyAssClothing.

FlyAssClothing Open Book.png

A spokesperson for DOT told MacIver in an email late Thursday that the above purchases were fraudulent charges, and the department has since asked for a credit.

DOT also spent $4,289.83 at AirSplat.com, a California company that specializes in airsoft guns, paintball guns and the associated equipment. The department claims these purchases were for “materials used by the Division of State Patrol in training and recertification programs.”

Air Splat Open Book.png

Air Splat Open Book 2.png

Another odd expenditure included $5,725 to YouShop, Inc, a smartphone shopping app. DOT claims that these were also fraudulent charges.

Speaking of DOT’s spending habits, Wisconsin Watchdog discovered one such issue back in December. DOT spent $30,000 on videos explaining to drivers how to guide their vehicles through roundabouts.

Check out one of the videos below:

Remember, this is the same department that submitted a budget request to raise taxes and fees by $750 million to help fund $1.36 billion in additional spending over the next two years.

For more questionable government spending, check out OpenBook.wi.gov. If you find something, let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

*Correction: A previous version of this article claimed the company “All Wrapped Up” was a California company specializing in gift wrapping services. DOT clarified that it is in fact a Wisconsin company that applies decals to state trooper vehicles.