Company says Wirch campaign statement false

Uline issues statement alleging Sen. Wirch wrongly took credit for bringing company to state

PLEASANT PRAIRIE - Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie, is wrongly taking credit for bringing Uline, a large Kenosha County shipping material distributor, to Wisconsin, the company's founders said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The company, which employs about 800 people in Kenosha County, announced its move from Waukegan, Ill., to Pleasant Prairie in early 2008 and moved in 2010.

Wirch's campaign literature said, "Bob Wirch helped bring Uline to our area - creating 800 local jobs."

But the company's founders, CEO Dick Uihlein and President Liz Uihlein, issued a statement Wednesday stating Wirch was not involved in getting the company to move.

"We worked with a variety of state and local officials during the relocation process; however, State Sen. Wirch was not one of them," the statement said.

The company's statement said it had not intended to speak publicly about the recall election, but the company is forced to "in order to set the record straight."

Wirch, who left the state earlier this year to avoid voting on the budget repair bill, is facing a recall election Aug. 16. His challenger is Jonathan Steitz.

Wirch recently sponsored a bill which will give Pleasant Prairie greater flexibility to administer its tax incremental financing (TIF) district and could help finance infrastructure improvements near Uline.

But the TIF district bill Wirch sponsored was introduced long after Uline decided to relocate to Pleasant Prairie, the company's statement said.

Uline provided a copy of the campaign literature cover, which appeared to a mailer, but the cover did not state explicitly who paid for the literature.

In an emailed statement Wirch said, "As a third generation factory worker, I have always been proud of the work I've done to partner with local businesses and create jobs in our community. One example of this is when I toured Uline last year and discussed with company leadership the importance of a strong workforce and well-trained workforce."

But his statement did not say if Wirch's campaign directly issued the campaign literature claiming to bring Uline to Wisconsin or what the claim was based on.