Clashes at top led one WEDC exec to write resignation letter

A Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. vice president temporarily resigned his post last month after a series of clashes with COO Ryan Murray.

Lee Swindall, vice president of business and industry development, accused Murray of “causing deep and lasting harm” to the agency, according to emails released to

Gov. Scott Walker sent Murray to the agency following problems in the months after its launch.

But Swindall wrote in his resignation letter late last month to WEDC CEO Reed Hall that Murray, “lacking either the talent or experience to function as Chief Operations Officer at WEDC, is causing deep and lasting harm through the application of control-style management rather than consultative management.”

Swindall then rescinded his resignation a couple days later in a letter to Hall that demanded a series of changes to his working relationship with Murray.

Murray, meanwhile, sent Hall a memo last week outlining policies Swindall had violated or ignored. That included refusing to discipline staff who failed to complete required training and using hotels in Madison despite agency rules against such stays in an employee’s “home-base city.” To correct the latter issue, Murray required Swindall to clear all hotel stays with him. Even so, Swindall continued to turn in reimbursement requests for Madison hotel stays, which Murray’s email says he denied.

WEDC has been criticized for turnover among its top staff. Had Swindall left, he would have been the third VP to leave this year. The WEDC emails were released following requests from the media.

“Employees must be accountable for their actions, and in turn, those actions must be transparent to our board and the taxpayers of Wisconsin,” WEDC spokesman Mark Maley said after releasing the records. “We expect our staff to act responsibly in our organization as we maintain a professional work environment.”

The documents also included several email exchanges between Swindall and Murray.

In one, Murray chided Swindall for lobbying lawmakers to provide his operation additional staff to his division.

“Putting aside the fact that the tactic itself has 0% chance of success since it fails to grasp how the budget process works, it’s disrespectful to both Reed and I go to over our heads like that,” Murray wrote.

Swindall denied doing so in an email to Murray.

Read the documents