MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation now says it did not intend to mislead a state committee last week over its tax-exempt status.
Critics say political connections helped the group win a half-million dollar state grant to promote hunting and fishing -- while other conservation groups were not allowed by Republican legislators to apply.
The state's Sporting Heritage Committee approved the controversial grant last week, after the president of the United Sportsmen assured that it received a federal tax-exempt status.
This week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the group was never awarded that status -- and the IRS rejected the United Sportsmen's request to expedite its application.
In a statement released yesterday, group president Andy Pantzlaff said he had not consulted with the group's attorney about the matter before last week's meeting -- and he didn't know that a group member received the IRS decision a week prior to the meeting.
DNR officials said the winning applicant only needed to be a non-profit group, and tax-exempt status was not required.
Still, at least one member of the Sporting Heritage Committee was upset that his panel was misled. Pantzlaff said the United Sportsmen did not mean for that to happen, and he apologized.