After recent reports surfaced that a business owned by State Rep. Ernie Leidiger (R-Mayer) owes approximately $144,000 in back taxes to the state and the federal government, Leidiger openly discussed the situation on Monday, Sept. 17.
“Many small businesses have experienced financial difficulties in these uncertain, troubling economic times,” said Leidiger, who said the business in question is Jelco Parts, Inc., an office furniture and liquidation company that closed in 2011.
“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,” Leidiger said. “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,” he continued. “We tried to stay afloat by shifting to work in furniture removal and liquidation, but that, too, soon lost its demand.”
Leidiger said the company had to close its doors by 2011, an action that led to the loss of 30 jobs and work for the vendors that were associated with the company.
“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,” he said.
Leidiger said that he is the last office holder standing from the business’ operations, and thus, he is 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,” said Leidiger, who indicated that the amount of taxes owed is not as high as the reported figure.
Leidiger expressed his frustration about challenges facing small businesses across the country, challenges he believes are caused by “the Obama economy” and unnecessary government intervention that works counterintuitive to normal economic recovery.
“The Obama economy has ruined many small businesses around the country. His policies have resulted in the worst economic period in American history,” said Leidiger, who feels that the president has marginalized business owners, “those in our society that take the risks and create jobs for others.”
Leidiger was elected to the state house in 2010. He represents District 34A, which will become 47A under redistricting next year. Keith Pickering (DFL) of Watertown is Leidiger’s opponent in the general election in November.