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MNGOP Rep. Ernie Leidiger owes over $100,000 in overdue taxes, blames Obama

Who you gonna blame? O-ba-ma!
Who you gonna blame? O-ba-ma!

Rep. Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayer, has three tax liens filed against him and reportedly owes $144,000 in overdue state and federal taxes.

SEE ALSO: Rep. Ernie Leidiger outed for inviting Bradlee Dean to lead House prayer

Is the failing small business owner from the party of personal accountability being accountable? Of course not! During an interview with the Chaska Herald yesterday, the freshman legislator pinned his problems on the man Republicans love to hate -- President Barack Hussein Obama.

Leidiger claims he owes less than $144,000 and is working with the federal and state governments to figure out a payment agreement.

"One of my companies is a victim of the Obama economy," Leidiger told the Herald, adding that the business, Brothers Office Furniture, went out of business and had to lay off all of its 30 employees.

More from the Herald:

Leidiger said if the Obama administration had not done a federal stimulus program the business would have been fine.

"It's not a pretty thing to go through," Leidiger said. "This is why I ran. Small businesses are getting screwed by the Obama economy. We've got to reduce government spending."

But according to the Brick City Blog, Leidiger has benefited from government assistance for years, dating back to his taxpayer-subsidized educations at the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval War College.

In July 2009, Leidiger received a $500,000 Patriot Express loan from the Small Business Administration for another of his businesses, Jelco Parts. Just months later, Jelco started falling behind on its taxes.

More from LeftMN:

SBA Patriot Express Loans are available to veterans who own small businesses, and are 90% federally guaranteed. This means that if Jelco Parts defaults on the loan, taxpayers will pay for 90% of the outstanding loan amount. Just months after receiving the $500,000 federally guaranteed loan, Leidiger started falling behind on his federal and state taxes.

It appears that taxpayers will be on the hook for a lot of money, based on the tax liens and other recent events. Jelco was evicted from its Brooklyn Park offices in August 2010. Then, [Brick City] reported on September 6th that Jelco Parts had been administratively dissolved by the State of Minnesota for failure to pay its registration fee.

Leidiger's tax difficulties didn't escape the notice of House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, who blasted Leidiger for hypocritically relying on government in his business dealings while denouncing it in the legislature.

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Thissen said:

Leidiger, like his Republican legislative colleagues, spent the last two years railing against government at all levels. It comes as a surprise to find out that Leidiger's business happily took half a million dollars in taxpayer support in 2009. Rep. Leidiger owes an immediate explanation to his constituents and to the millions of small businesses and families across Minnesota who play by the rules every day, year after year.

Leidiger won 65 percent of the vote in his heavily Republican district in 2010, the Strib notes.

Before Leidiger's tax problems were revealed, the Brick City Blog put his rely-on-government-yet-denounce-it hypocrisy in its broader context:

Leidiger says "government is the problem" -- yet, government has been there at nearly every step of the way in his adult life. He served in the Navy and got two taxpayer-funded degrees. His business is supported by a $500,000 SBA loan -- guaranteed by the federal government and originated with fees paid by the taxpayer. His business has had over $16,000 in state contracts since 2008. He is the recipient of numerous government benefit programs due to his military service and his position as a state legislator.

Would Ernie Leidiger have the same level of achievement today without the products of government to help him on the way? It's impossible to say, but the journey certainly would have been more difficult. And now that he's made it, Ernie Leidiger has set out to undo the sorts of programs that allow people to have the same journey he has had. He's pulling up the ladder, leaving future generations (and those pushed to the sidelines by our current economic woes) to fend for themselves. That's what concerns me the most here.

This is exactly the kind of "leadership" that we don't need. Being ignorant of your past and our present is no way to point this state towards the future.

Yesterday afternoon, Leidiger released a statement responding to the recent reportage about his tax problems. To read it in full, click to page two.

 

Leidiger's statement:

Many small businesses have experienced financial difficulties in these uncertain, troubling economic times. My office furniture business was successful for almost five years, employing 30 people with sales that grew every year, reaching almost $2.5 million at its height in 2008. Our business was closely linked to commercial real estate, so when that market faltered, so did ours. Things were looking good by the middle of 2009, only to crater again as uncertainty grabbed hold of the economy.

As businesses downsized, demand for our products dropped, orders were canceled, and we had to downsize ourselves. We tried to stay afloat by shifting to work in furniture removal and liquidation, but that, too, soon lost its demand.

By 2011, we had to close our doors, and with that came the loss of 30 direct jobs as well as work for the vendors we worked with. The pain of closing its doors was difficult for me and the employees and family members who made our successful years possible. You never want to see something you pour your life into fail.

I am the last office holder standing from our operations, and I am the one who is taking the responsibility to finish it. I have a payment plan in place with the state to pay off our remaining tax liability and am in negotiations with the federal government to do the same.


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