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Paul Thissen wants an explanation! (Photo by author, taken at DFL SD41 Convention, April 2012)
by Aaron Klemz
Sep 17, 2012, 8:36 PM

Thissen demands answers, Leidiger explains: It’s Obama’s fault

After five days of stonewalling, Rep. Ernie Leidiger (R – Mayer) finally responded to the news, first reported here on LeftMN, that he had three tax liens totaling $144,000. It took a press release from DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen finally get a response. Thissen stated:

Representative Ernie 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.

But far more troubling than this slice of political hypocrisy is the fact that Representative Leidiger has apparently failed to pay more than $140,000 in federal and state taxes.

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.

After all of this time to think about it, you’d expect a well-crafted response, but you’d be wrong. Nope, Leidiger initially blamed President Obama and federal stimulus spending for the failure of his office furniture business.

“One of my companies is a victim of the Obama economy,” Leidiger said Sept. 17.

The company, which he described as an office furniture and liquidation business, had 30 employees and went out of business.

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.” (emphasis is mine)

This from a man who took out a half million dollar Small Business Administration loan, guaranteed in part by federal stimulus spending, with the origination fee paid by taxpayers. If Leidiger fails to make good on the loan, 90% of it will be covered by the same federal spending that he now blames for his business failure. This is breathtaking chutzpah.

But Rep. Leidiger has chutzpah to spare. After all, he invited Bradlee Dean to give the House prayer, then apologized to him on the air for calling him a “radical.” He shouted down members of the League of Women Voters at a senior center, then called them “pathetic partisan hacks.”

The Minnesota House GOP communications staff must have grabbed Leidiger after he spoke with the Chaska Herald reporter to sand off some of the rough edges of his statement, but the final product basically says the same thing, that the economy took down Leidiger’s business. But that’s beside the point. Not only has Leidiger broken faith with his constituents by not following the rules that other small business follow, he’s engaged in an act of incredible hypocrisy.

It’s in the hands of the Minnesota House Republicans, they should do the right thing and demand that Leidiger not run for re-election. I’m not optimistic. After all, it took a DFL’er to prise a statement out of Leidiger’s clenched jaws.

But the House GOP should keep this in mind. If Rep. Leidiger stays in the race, they may be explaining “the Solyndra of Office Furniture” next.

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