Pro-Obama small business advocate has big financial problems

Charles Rollet Contributor
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President Obama’s policies are hardly popular with small business owners — only 35 percent of them thought he was doing a good job in 2012. But for years, small business lobbyist and Obama cheerleader John Arensmeyer has bucked the trend.

Arensmeyer, who runs the advocacy group Small Business Majority, has praised Obamacare’s “many benefits,” asked for higher taxes on entrepreneurs, and aggressively supported immigration reform, even calling for some businesses to be exempt from E-Verify.

But although Arensmeyer is often cited as a small business expert by the media, he has had significant business issues of his own, the Washington Examiner reports.

His old firm, Arensmeyer Communications, stuck it to the struggling small business Allflex after never paying back an order of 50,000 CD mailers, costing its owner Joel Cohen $20,000.

“That was one of the biggest losses we ever took, and I’ve been in business since 1967,” Cohen said.

Arensmeyer Communications was a highly troubled company with multiple tax problems. It had five tax liens filed against it in two states totaling over $70,000 from 1999 to 2001, and in 2004, the California Franchise Tax Board suspended it for missing several years of tax returns.

Arensmeyer’s business trouble extended to his personal finances as well. In 2007, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to erase $211,000 of mostly personal debt.

Even Arensmeyer’s nonprofit lobbying group, Small Business Majority, has had substantial tax issues. From 2005 to 2009, it did not file a single mandatory IRS 990 tax return.

In its 2010 IRS filing, the group claimed it received no contributions or grants in 2009, but records show $1.3 million worth of grants were made to Small Business Majority that very year.

Ironically enough, in a 2012 blog post, Arensmeyer pushed for higher taxes, writing: “of course, nobody likes paying taxes, but we have a grave budget crisis on our hands.”

Leaders of the small business community have spoken out against Arensmeyer’s financial irresponsibility.

Dan Danner, the president of the National Federation of Independent Business, questioned whether he was a trustworthy representative of small businesses.

“If you’re going to talk about everybody ought to pay your taxes and you didn’t, that doesn’t make you a very credible spokesperson,” Danner said.

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