Tag Archives: Bradlee Dean

A final look back at the 2011-2012 legislative session for Ortman, Hoppe, and Leidiger

Minnesota’s Legislature gavels back into session tomorrow, with DFL majorities ready to take the reins from the Republicans.  Carver County’s population growth over the last decade will mean additional representation for the County, as northeast Chanhassen will be represented by legislative newcomers State. Sen David Osmek and State Rep. Cindy Pugh, while the rest of the county will return State Sen. Julianne Ortman, State Rep. Joe Hoppe, and State Rep. Ernie Leidiger to their positions.  Before we turn the page on the 2011-2012 session, let’s look back at the highlights and lowlights for Ortman, Hoppe, and Leidiger as well as a look forward to what they might do in this session.

State. Sen Julianne Ortman


State Sen. Julianne Ortman

By the numbers:  Chief authored 61 bills, and 16 were passed by the Legislature (10 were signed into law and 6 vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton).

Highlights:  Ortman was one of the most powerful figures in the Senate last session, chairing the Tax Committee and being elevated to Deputy Majority Leader following the Amy Koch scandal.  Legislatively, Ortman’s role on the Tax Committee gave her leverage in the budget negotiations in 2011.  Ortman also was able to pass some useful judicial reform, raising the dollar limit for cases that can be pursued in conciliation court.

Lowlights:  The rest of Ortman’s judicial reform agenda was ill-considered, and vetoed by Gov. Dayton.  Ortman also regrettably tried to follow along with her Republican colleagues and introduced a constitutional amendment to  fix a legislative problem — by putting limits on state spending in the constitution.  Finally, Ortman rather publicly flip-flopped on tax credits for renters, raising taxes on many.

The Future:  Ortman will be the ranking minority member of the Senate Tax Committee, which will give her a platform to critique and potentially influence the Governor’s expected tax reform package.

State Rep. Joe Hoppe

Rep. Joe Hoppe

State Rep. Joe Hoppe

By the numbers:  Chief authored 31 bills, and 11 were passed by both houses of the Legislature (9 were signed into law, and 2 were vetoed).

Highlights:  Hoppe chaired the Commerce Committee and he continued his record of working on business regulation reform, passing bills that tweaked rules related to health care premium-setting, licensing in the real estate market and allowing blackjack at Canterbury Park and Running Aces while allowing tribal casinos to do off-track betting on horse racing.  Hoppe was also a key supporter of the Minnesota Vikings stadium effort.

Lowlights:  Hoppe had sought a significant reform to Minnesota’s Public Employee Insurance Program (PEIP), changing the process for education unions to enter PEIP.  Currently, if a majority of eligible union members approve, the union can enter PEIP.  Under the legislation, additional approval by the employer (in this case, the school district) would have been required as well.  This was a serious point of contention between school boards and Education Minnesota.  Gov. Dayton vetoed the measure.  Hoppe also — after repeatedly claiming that he didn’t like legislating by constitutional amendment — carried Ortman’s spending-related amendment in the House and voted for the gay marriage and voter ID amendments.

Looking forward:  Hoppe will be the Republican lead on the Commerce Committee.  Given his good working relationship with DFL Chair Rep. Joe Atkins, we can expect Hoppe to continue to produce similar efforts at regulatory reform.

State Rep. Ernie Leidiger

Rep. Ernie Leidiger

State Rep. Ernie Leidiger

By the numbers:  Chief authored 10 bills, and 2 were passed by both houses of the Legislature (1 signed into law, 1 vetoed).

Highlights:  Leidiger had few legislative accomplishments to note during the session.  The one bill he authored that was signed into law requires law enforcement to fingerprint those arrested for violation of a domestic abuse no contact order.

Lowlights:  Leidiger’s bill to mandate use of the federal E-Verify system for all state employees was vetoed by Gov. Dayton for being duplicative of existing state processes.  Leidiger also, as you may have heard, made some waves for inviting controversial preacher Bradlee Dean to give the invocation in the House in 2011 and for violating two campaign finance laws by paying for a speeding ticket using campaign funds.

Looking Forward:  Leidiger was one of the least productive of the House’s GOP freshmen last session.  Out of 31, he ranked 29th in bills chief authored, tied for 22nd in bills signed into law, and was only asked to participate in one of 92 conference committees to hash out final versions of bills.  As a member of the legislative minority now, Leidiger looks destined for a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing unless he radically changes his approach to the job.


Do you stand with Ernie Leidiger?

State Representative Ernie Leidiger has had an active first term in the legislature.  Not in terms of getting legislation passed, because he’s been one of least productive members of the Republican majority in the House, but rather with all the sideshows and distractions that he’s created.  Let’s recap the list:

But the kicker has got to be the revelation from Aaron Klemz at LeftMN that Leidiger owes over $144,000 in unpaid taxes to the state and federal governments.

This is unacceptable.

We cannot allow our state representative to flaunt the law in such a brazen manner.  As the documents show, Leidiger’s unpaid taxes go back to 2009.  I don’t mind paying the taxes that I owe.  I do mind it when other people don’t pay their fair share, because that raises my tax burden and the burden of everyone else who plays by the rules.  And I really mind it when the people who are cheating on their taxes are elected officials.

As these revelations have come out, one by one by one, the Carver County GOP and State Republican Party have remained silent.  With the latest revelation, that time must end.  It is time for our local and state Republican officials to say whether they approve of this and if they still stand behind Rep. Leidiger.

While there’s no way to take Rep. Leidiger’s name off the ballot at this point, there are plenty of things local and state Republicans could do to show that they don’t accept Rep. Leidiger’s behavior, either.   These include, but are not limited to:

  • Voting to remove Leidiger’s endorsement
  • Refusing to provide him with any financial or logistical support in his campaign
  • Supporting a write-in campaign to supplant him (much like Democrats are doing in Kerry Gauthier’s district)

At the very least, it would be nice to see some prominent local Republicans step forward and publicly say that this is not behavior they condone and values they endorse.  Do you stand with Ernie Leidiger? Or do our local Republicans believe that the R behind the name overrides everything?

It’s also time for our local Carver County papers to get off the sidelines.  This is an elected official with over $144,000 in unpaid taxes.  You have a responsibility to your readers to make this information known, and you are letting them down if you don’t cover this.  You also have a responsibility to put local Republicans on the record — do they defend this behavior?

Who is willing to stand with Ernie Leidiger?  It’s time to find out.

[edit: small changes for clarification]

Hypocrisy, eviction, lawsuits and porn: what does the business career of Rep. Ernie Leidiger mean?

Government is the problem, not the solution.  — Ernie Leidiger, Chaska Herald, 2010

One of the consistent building blocks of State Rep. Ernie Leidiger’s political ideology has been his call that government (at the federal and state level) needs to get out of the private sector’s way, cut spending, and let the “job creators” do their work.

How has that ideology played out in Leidiger’s life and business career?

Rep. Leidiger hasn’t been the most ardent supporter of public education in his career in the legislature.  Leidiger has voted against the last two bonding bills in the State House, both of which had vital projects in both the MnSCU and University of Minnesota systems.  He also flip-flopped on a campaign promise and voted in favor of shifting $700 million away from our K-12 schools.  Leidiger, it should be pointed out, graduated from the most public of public schools — the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Naval War College — with all tuition expense paid by taxpayers.

Rep. Leidiger often trumpets his private sector experience as the head of Brothers Office Furniture.  In fact, Leidiger has a number of business entities registered with the state of Minnesota, most of which lead back to a company called Jelco Parts, Inc. — these include Brothers LiquidationBrothers Office InstallersBrothers Office PartsBrothers Office ServicesBroBid.com, and Brothers Recycling.  Brothers Office Furniture and Brothers Office LLC are registered under Leidiger’s business associate Mike Soderquist at the same address as the other Brothers businesses.  Then, there’s Brothers Liquidation & Recycling LLC, registered at the same address as Brothers Office Furniture, but with no listed contact.

Leidiger and Soderquist are also involved in a venture called SJK International, a nonprofit that works to bring foreign students to the United States to work on J-1 visas.  J-1 visas were originally designed for cultural exchange, but have come under fire for increasingly being used by employers as a cheap way to supplement their workforces or worse. [EDIT:  Let me make it perfectly clear that I have no knowledge of SJK International being involved with such abuse.]

The extent to which Leidiger wants to be known as being associated with his businesses seems to vary, as well.  His original economic disclosure form didn’t include Brothers, then was amended during the 2011 session to include it, and the most recent revision excludes it.  In fact, his July 2012 economic disclosure form shows no sources of income for Leidiger outside of his position in the legislature, despite the long list of companies he has registered.

Leidiger’s business receives federal stimulus dollars

Setting the conditions for private sector growth and reducing government spending is the answer to economic stimulus. One only needs to see what has happened to the failure of the federal stimulus plan to realize that more government spending is not the answer.  – State Rep. Ernie Leidiger, “News and Views“, February 2012

According to Leidiger, the federal stimulus plan was a failure and claims that more government spending is not the answer.  It’s an interesting perspective, given that Jelco Parts, Inc. received a $500,000 Patriot Express loan from the Small Business Administation in July 2009 as part of the federal stimulus plan.

While the Patriot Express program began before the stimulus plan, under the stimulus bill several key changes were made to the program.  First, the SBA guarantee on loans like Leidiger’s increased from 75% to 90% and eliminated the 3% fee on the guaranteed portion of the loan.  On A $500,000 loan, that’s a savings of $13,500.

So the taxpayer — you — paid the fees to originate Leidiger’s loan.  And if Leidiger’s business fails, the taxpayer — you — are on the hook to help cover his losses.

SBA loans, with their guarantees, are also only available to applicants who can’t get funding on their own through normal financing methods.  So in Rep. Ernie Leidiger’s “government spending is not the answer” world, the market would have spoken and his business would go without that additional capital.  Businessman Ernie Leidiger was happy to take the federal-backed funding and run with it.

Eviction, lawsuits, and pornography

Ernie knows what it’s like to make payroll and how to keep a concern running … these days what works is running lean, being nimble, and stay true to your business.  – Ernie Leidiger 2010 campaign website

How have Leidiger’s companies failed since the infusion of government money? Not so great, really.

Former employees tell stories of a mismanaged operation with internal strife and unhappy customers.  Brothers Office Furniture and Brothers Liquidation both carry “F” ratings from the Better Business Bureau as testament to those assertions.

Jelco Parts (and Leidiger’s other businesses) were evicted (Case 27-CV-HC-10-4859) from their Brooklyn Park offices in August 2010, just 13 months after receiving that guaranteed government loan.  Since then, the businesses have relocated to north Minneapolis.  The registration of the Brothers Office Furniture business under Soderquist comes at a timeframe concurrent with the legal dispute with their landlord in the eviction process.

Two corporations — the original Brothers Office Furniture and Brothers Office Corporation — that rolled up to Jelco Parts were discontinued around this time.  It appears Leidiger and his associates were trying to disassociate the two businesses.  Why would you need to do such a thing?

Experts consulted indicate that this may be a strategy to protect the assets of Brothers Office Furniture should Jelco Parts default on its SBA loan, as that company’s assets would be at risk to cover the portion of the loan that was not guaranteed if the two organizations were still legally bound together.  This may also explain why Leidiger’s residence in Mayer is registered under the name of his wife Jan, and sister-in-law Linda — as Leidiger’s personal assets could also be at risk if Jelco Parts defaulted.

Meanwhile, Brothers Office Furniture lost a lawsuit and was ordered to pay $7,500 in damages in April 2011 and still hasn’t paid up (Case 27-CV-11-11245).  Per state law, such judgments are supposed to paid within 30 days.  The plaintiff in this case has had to go to court to get a writ of execution in an attempt to collect from Leidiger’s company — as of yet, unsuccessfully, as the judgment is still listed as active in the state court system.

And, that’s not the only lawsuit the Leidiger businesses have endured recently.  Judgments against Brothers Recycling & Liquidation ($32,389,90 from May 2011, also resulting in a writ of execution, Case 73-CV-11-4601) and Brothers Office Furniture & Liquidation ($1,415.28 from November 2011, Case 27-CV-12-3581) are also unpaid at this time.  Total it up and you’ve got over $40,000 in unpaid legal judgments against the Brothers family of businesses.

That’s not to say, though, that there haven’t been some high points.  Although Rep. Ernie Leidiger is a noted supporter of “traditional family values”, Brothers Liquidation did have a major sale last year —  selling off the inventory of the Shinders bookstore chain, which included 20,000 X-rated magazines (all of which I’m sure were the “traditional family values” kind of pornography).

Pulling up the ladder

So what does this all mean?  Some people who read this will no doubt be concerned about some of the specifics listed above.  And while there are certainly things to be troubled about there, I think the most important lesson to learn from this comes not from focusing on any individual event, but about what the totality of this record means in context with the political positions that Leidiger advocates for.

While Rep. Ernie Leidiger voices opposition to many forms of government spending and votes against bills that would create jobs, businessman Ernie Leidiger happily collects government-guaranteed loans originated with no fees.  Rep. Ernie Leidiger supports traditional family values, while businessman Ernie Leidiger sells pornography.

(And let’s not forget about Rep. Leidiger’s creative interpretations of campaign finance law that violated two state statutes and generated $800 in civil penalties or his embrace of radical preachers who espouse hateful agendas.)

This is not to suggest that the programs that Leidiger has benefited from are bad programs, or that Leidiger’s military service wasn’t noble.  To the contrary, the programs in question are good programs and should be continued and Leidiger’s Naval career is honorable.

And I’m not going to deride Leidiger’s entrepreneurial spirit.  It’s great that we have people like Leidiger who are willing to take risks and start businesses.  We need more of them.  But, Leidiger’s policies and positions don’t reflect the reality of his own life.

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.

[UPDATE]:  More problems for Leidiger here.

Roomin’ with the Rep: You Can Journey to Ernie’s House

It’s not indicated if access to the Bradlee Dean video library is included, but Rep. Ernie Leidiger is renting out a room in the family farmhouse in Camden Township just south of Mayer via Craigslist. (Leidiger is apparently handling the rental himself, although the property is owned by his wife Jan and sister-in-law Linda.)

You could be the yellow one. (via Wikipedia)

For $525 a month, you get a bedroom with private bath in the 2,250 square foot residence.  Utilities, internet, cable TV and washer and dryer are included as well.  Cats and dogs are OK, too.  Based on the pictures, it looks like a very clean and nice place.

The side benefits of renting a room from Rep. Leidiger are numerous, though, and not listed in the ad.  Imagine hearing all about the GOP’s exciting plans for the next legislative session!  Or getting an explanation for voting against new science and technology facilities at state colleges.  Maybe he’ll tell you why he flip-flopped on K-12 funding shifts.  It would be like your own personal ALEC seminar, with horse stables and a storage building included!

(For those of you wondering, since the address is not on the ad:  Two sources familiar with the Leidiger farm have confirmed this is his residence.  The phone number listed in the ad also matches the phone number on Leidiger’s House profile.  Thanks to the tipster who alerted me to the listing.)

Ernie Leidiger grovels to Bradlee Dean [UPDATE #2 9/15]

The good folks at DumpMicheleBachmann call our attention to Rep. Ernie Leidiger’s appearance on Bradlee Dean’s radio show on September 3.  There, Leidiger totally recants his criticism of Dean in the wake of Dean’s controversial appearance giving the invocation near the end of the legislative session.  You can also listen to the complete interview on Dean’s website, with Leidiger appearing at about the 25 minute mark.

It’s truly sad to see my state representative groveling to a person like Dean.

[UPDATE]:  Three key takeaways, if you don’t want to sit through the entire interview.

  1. Leidiger admits to attending a screening of Dean’s “My War” documentary.  Previously, Leidiger had said he was only familiar with Dean’s school presentations.
  2. Leidiger agrees with Dean on the need to protect children from the “homosexual agenda”
  3. Leidiger says there’s nothing “radical” about Dean or his ministry.

Check out our other coverage of the Leidiger/Dean fiasco:

Original post regarding House invocation

Dean’s July response to Leidiger

There’s also a lot more to Ernie Leidiger’s freshman term in the House than just this incident.  Read our Ernie Leidiger archive for more.

[UPDATE #2]:  For some history on Bradlee Dean and racial issues, see this post from DumpMicheleBachmann.  Just this past weekend, Dean said this:

“We hear people talk about our forefathers like they were bad [unintelligible]. Of course, you are hearing that from the left only and you are hearing that from black folk, so on and so forth, they use the excuse of slavery.”

Yes, one can only wonder why “black folk” would think slavery might be a demerit on the records of the founding fathers.  This is the kind of person Ernie Leidiger is now proud to associate himself with.

Bradlee Dean vs. Ernie Leidiger: who’s not telling the truth here?

Pastor Bradlee Dean, whose invocation caused significant controversy at the end of the legislative sessionwas recently interviewed by City Pages.  In the interview, Dean was asked about Rep. Ernie Leidiger, who invited Dean to give the invocation.  Afterwards, Leidiger proclaimed he was not aware of Dean’s views on homosexuality.

CP: Was it [Ernie] Leidiger that invited you?

BDS: He came to one of our events, and sat there and watched the whole debunking.

He knows what was done, he sat and watched the whole program. I think what happened was that it was brand new. Listen, when the media first comes down on you, it’s not a secure feeling.

We went through it, but the bottom line is I just don’t think he was really for it. But what was interesting is, when we did the event, he was there and he was the first one to stand up, “We need to get behind these guys. We need to stand up.”

CP: So Leidiger was at an event?

BDS: He’s seen the whole thing.  One of the documentary premieres.

It seems somebody isn’t telling the truth here.  Is it Bradlee Dean or Ernie Leidiger?

Nohealthcareville and other “highlights” of the 2011 legislative session

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?  We’re a couple of days downstream from the end of the official 2011 legislative session, and it’s a marvel to look back at the last four months and see everything that didn’t get done. 

Republican majorities in the House and Senate offered no meaningful compromise from their pre-session position, while Governor Dayton changed the substance of his proposal significantly.

Let’s look back at some of the budget bills that were passed (and vetoed) and some of key provisions.  All of these were voted for by the Carver County legislative contingent of Sen. Julianne Ortman, Rep. Ernie Leidiger, and Rep. Joe Hoppe.

These sorts of budget provisions are not in character with what has made Minnesota great place to live for decades.  The Republican majorities are undercutting the things that have given Minnesota a competitive advantage — well-educated people, well-maintained infrastructure, and a safety net that protects the most vulnerable in our society.  You can’t out-Mississippi Mississippi, and we shouldn’t even try.

It wasn’t just the budget that made news during the session, though.  Despite their alleged focus on jobs and the budget, Republicans used their majorities to jam through numerous bills on divisive social issues.

And, of course, no recap of the session would be complete without a reminder of Leidiger’s Bradlee Dean fiasco last week.

These are not the values that Carver County residents believe in.  We don’t believe in dividing.  We don’t believe in focusing on the sideshow while critical problems go unaddressed.  Let’s hope that cooler heads will prevail over the next month and both sides can agree to a sensible, balanced solution to our budget crisis.

(Cartoon from the StarTribune via about.com.)

Leidiger invites Bradlee Dean to give explosive invocation on floor of MN House [UPDATED]

On the floor of the Minnesota House this morning, anti-gay pastor Bradlee Dean gave a controversial invocation, where he made comments excluding non-Christians and implying that President Obama is not a Christian.

For background (and video) of the invocation, see this account on Minnesota Progressive Project.  Here’s a transcript of the end of the prayer:

I know this is a non-denominational prayer in this Chamber and it’s not about the Baptists and it’s not about the Catholics alone or the Lutherans or the Wesleyans. Or the Presbyterians the evangelicals or any other denomination but rather the head of the denomination and his name is Jesus. As every President up until 2008 has acknowledged. And we pray it. In Jesus’ name.

Who would invite someone like Dean to give such an invocation — on the day that the House is expected to take up the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?

Mayer’s own Ernie Leidiger — according to Minnesota Public Radio’s Tom Scheck.


Leidiger should be embarrassed to bring such hatred onto the floor of the Minnesota House.  He owes all of us an apology, fast and heartfelt.  That’s the very least he can do to make up for this shameful situation.

UPDATE:  For those of you just becoming familiar with Rep. Leidiger, check out what us locals have been saying about our first-term Representative by reviewing our archive of Leidiger coverage.

UPDATE 2:  According to the Chanhassen Villager, Leidiger is pleading ignorance of Dean’s views.  Given Dean’s prominence in conservative and Tea Party circles, as well as his connections to Michele Bachmann and Tom Emmer (Leidiger is proud of his early support of Emmer), and Dean’s presence at the 2010 state GOP convention, that claim is not very credible.

UPDATE 3 (5/21):  With the heat of the moment passed, I’ll take Leidiger at his word that he didn’t know about Dean’s history.  But it shows that he didn’t even bother to do a simple Google search on Rev. Dean before promoting him to speak before the entire House.  That would be consistent with Leidiger’s history supporting short-sighted legislation, making dubious claims about transportation fundingprotecting his patrons at expense of the people, backing unprecedented theft of dedicated local sales tax revenues to balance the budget, and putting party loyalty ahead of local concerns.

UPDATE 4 (5/23):  On his radio show Saturday, Dean asserted that Leidiger did in fact know of Dean’s views.  Dean says that Leidiger was at a screening of Dean’s “My War” documentary last fall.   (Audio at 31:00 of the link.)

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