Tag: business

UNCONFIRMED REPORT: Marla Maples may have released Donald Trump’s 1995 tax return

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following blog post includes a description of a female individual as an “actor”. The word “actor” is used in a gender-neutral context on this website, although most people use the term “actress” to describe a female actor.


In 2016, the 1990’s have officially come full circle thanks to a recent New York Times report on Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns.

Trump declared a nearly $916 million loss on his 1995 tax returns. In the mid-1990’s, Trump’s business record included the failure of Trump Airlines and the mismanagement of three Atlantic City, New Jersey casinos. The kind of loss that Trump declared was a net operating loss, and it could have legally allowed Trump to pay zero income taxes from three years prior to the declaration of the loss (1992) to 15 years after the declaration of the loss (2010). In that time frame, Trump earned tens of thousands of dollars per episode of The Apprentice that he hosted, and he also earned roughly $45 million for being the top executive of a publicly-traded company created by Trump to assume ownership of his Atlantic City properties. It’s also worth noting that ordinary investors in Trump’s publicly-traded company had the value of their shares decline to a measly 17¢ from $35.50, many contractors were not paid for work on Trump’s properties, and casino bondholders lost money.

However, as fellow progressive blogger Chris “Capper” Liebenthal likes to say, there’s more…there’s always more!

Jon Lovett, who lists himself as a presidential speechwriter on his Twitter page, has claimed that actor and television personality Marla Maples, who was Trump’s wife at the time the tax return was filed (Trump and Maples divorced in 1999), released Trump’s tax returns:

While this is an unconfirmed report, what is an indisputable fact is that the tax return was a tax return jointly filed by Trump and Maples as a married couple, something that federal law and IRS rules have long permitted. It is possible, but not confirmed, that Maples may have released the tax return to the public.

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John Oliver delivers strong rebuttal to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and business record

Yesterday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sent out this tweet in response to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump refusing to condemn former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) Grand Wizard and failed 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial candidate David Duke, who has publicly praised Trump:

Bernie’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, had absolutely nothing to add, so, in an extremely rare move, she retweeted Bernie’s tweet.

On the other hand, John Oliver, the host of the HBO comedy show Last Week Tonight and not a politician, had a lot to add. Oliver devoted nearly an entire episode of his show to Donald Trump’s record of bigotry, mocking people, failed business ventures, hypocrisy, dishonesty, and being a total jerk. I encourage everyone to watch the entire Oliver segment on Trump here:

I have absolutely nothing else to add.

More corporate welfare is not the solution to Wisconsin’s growing job loss problem

Make no mistake about it, Wisconsin has a serious job loss problem. Most notably, Oscar Meyer recently announced that it was closing its Madison, Wisconsin factory that had been in operation since 1919.

However, more corporate welfare isn’t the solution to Wisconsin’s growing job loss problem, in fact, I’d argue that Scott Walker’s political agenda as a whole, including corporate welfare, is the main culprit behind the growing job loss problem in Wisconsin.

Under Republican rule, Wisconsin has become one of the worst states, if not the worst state, for business. From Act 10 taking away collective bargaining rights and a sizable chunk of take-home pay from Wisconsin public employees, to other laws eliminating workers’ rights protections that Wisconsin workers enjoyed for decades, to laws making Wisconsin open for corruption and graft, to the morbidly-corrupt Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin has become a state that is absolutely hostile to business. More corporate welfare would only make the problem worse, since what businesses in Wisconsin need aren’t more taxpayer giveaways to them, but rather a stronger middle class and more money in the pockets of Wisconsin consumers.

Former Wisconsin politician Kelda Roys finds success in the real estate business

AUTHOR’S NOTE: An aunt on my dad’s side of my family is a real estate agent in the Westville, Illinois area, and my aunt’s real estate business would be a competitor to Kelda Roys’s business, if Kelda’s Wisconsin-based business expands into Illinois as planned.


Remember Kelda Roys? If not, I will tell you that she was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly who represented parts of Dane County until she lost her bid for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District of Wisconsin in 2012 to fellow Democrat Mark Pocan.

I will also tell you that Kelda is a very successful businesswoman nowadays. Kelda founded OpenHomes, a real estate business in Wisconsin, not long after losing her congressional bid, and her business has been very successful. A couple of weeks ago, the Madison Club, an elite social club in Madison, Wisconsin, held a startup business pitch competition based on the ABC (first-run) and CNBC (reruns) reality television show Shark Tank, which was won by Kelda and OpenHomes:

OpenHomes won the Shark Tank-style pitch contest at the Madison Club on (October 15), and with that, a year’s membership to the 106-year-old, private social club that looks out on Lake Monona.

[…]

The young company, at 30 W. Mifflin St., offers a new way to sell homes that it says is faster and more efficient and involves only a 1 percent commission.

“The average agent closes nine deals a year. With OpenHomes, one agent using our platform can close about 45 deals a year,” Roys said.

Kelda’s real estate business has been successful enough that Kelda is considering expanding her business outside of Wisconsin:

Roys is starting a fundraising round and hopes to get $500,000 from investors to expand into Illinois and Minnesota in 2016. “Our company is growing. Now, we want to scale and that’s going to take additional capital,” she said.

In an era where many former politicians get caught doing ridiculous things, Kelda Roys is one of the few former congressional candidates in this country who can claim that she has actually been successful at something outside of politics and hasn’t embarrassed her community in any way.

Martha Laning makes a huge impact in her first week as Wisconsin Democratic chairwoman

It’s only been a week since Martha Laning was elected Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), but she has already made a huge impact in Wisconsin politics by being, to my pleasant surprise, a critic of some forms of corporate welfare and a supporter of good government.

On Thursday, Laning sent this letter officially asking far-right Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel to do his job by helping to facilitate the release of official Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) records. As uncovered by audits, the WEDC, a state corporate welfare agency in Wisconsin created by Scott Walker and Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature in 2011, has repeatedly refused to comply with federal and state laws, as well as mismanaged Wisconsinites’ taxpayer money. While I’d never support the campaign of someone like Schimel for any public office, it would be the right thing for Schimel to help release records pertaining to the morbidly corrupt and incompetent WEDC, because Wisconsinites should have the right to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent.

That’s not the first time Laning has railed against some forms of corporate welfare and publicly supported good government policies.

In this interview on Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) stations across Wisconsin, Laning outlined the Democratic strategy in Wisconsin for the November 2016 elections and beyond, as well as gave some of her own opinions on various political issues in Wisconsin and nationally. Laning emphasized messaging heavily in the WPR interview; in fact, Laning pointed out a major flaw in the Democratic messaging that has been used in recent Wisconsin election cycles: many Wisconsinites don’t know what the Democratic Party stands for! Additionally, Laning publicly supported Move to Amend, an organized political movement that is pushing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution designed to remove the undue influence of money from our nation’s political system, and, to my pleasant surprise, sharply criticized a state tax break for Wisconsin manufacturers that all but eliminated taxes on Wisconsin manufacturers, even emphasizing how tax revenue funds things that are commonplace in society, such as roads, the judicial system, police departments, and fire departments. Regarding the 2018 gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, Laning strongly suggested that “several” potential candidates would at least consider running for Governor of Wisconsin as a Democrat, although she declined to name any potential candidates. Laning also strongly implied that she would prefer whoever Wisconsin Democrats nominate for governor in 2018 to emphasize “building strong communities”, “opportunity for all”, and “fairness”.

Needless to say, this is not what I expected from Martha Laning when she was elected to lead the Democratic Party in a critical swing state. I was expecting Laning to be a backbencher of sorts as DPW Chair, mostly working behind the scenes and rarely issuing public statements of her own about political issues. Instead, Laning has, to my pleasant surprise, publicly railed against preferential tax breaks for large businesses and has strongly supported restoring Wisconsin’s once-proud tradition of good government. Will I agree with every single thing Martha Laning does as DPW Chair? Likely not, as I’ve never agreed with anyone 100% of the time. Do I think that Martha Laning will be a wonderful DPW Chair? She’s certainly off to a great start!

Wisconsin Republicans and corporate Democrats attack a successful business

A large number of Republicans and twelve corporate Democrats in the Wisconsin State Legislature have decided to target a successful Wisconsin business: Union Cab of Madison Cooperative.

The Wisconsin State Legislature is on track to pass legislation, Wisconsin Senate Bill 106 (SB106), or, as I like to call it, the Julie Lassa-Cory Mason Bill to Revoke Local Control on Taxicab and Ridesharing Services, that would allow ridesharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, to operate statewide in Wisconsin with very few regulations. Ridesharing companies allow people who drive automobiles to offer rides to those who pay the ridesharing fee for a particular trip, usually via a mobile phone application that both the driver and the passengers are required to have.

These ridesharing companies engage in predatory practices that screw over customers, workers, and taxpayers. While I could write a 100,000-character blog post about the negative aspects of ridesharing companies, I’ll mention three of them in this blog post. First off, ridesharing companies screw over customers by raising their rates by using dynamic pricing, which is also called surge pricing. Surge pricing allows the ridesharing companies to raise their rates when their computer algorithms tell them that traffic is heavy, demand for rides is high, or something else that their algorithms factor in, such as, in at least one documented instance, a terrorist attack, allow them to raise their rates. Secondly, ridesharing companies screw over workers by taking a sizable chunk of the money that the drivers collect from offering rides. In some instances, ridesharing drivers are effectively paid a negative salary (i.e., effectively charged money to work) because the portion of the ridesharing fee that the driver keeps is less than the vehicle-related costs of the trip. Furthermore, ridesharing companies are a burden to taxpayers for two main reasons. First, taxpayers will end up on the hook for accidents involving ridesharing drivers who don’t have commercial automobile insurance. Second, there will be tons of lawsuits over liability claims over crashes involving ridesharing drivers, resulting in court cases that clog up the justice system and result in more taxpayer money being spent on trials.

However, the main reason why I oppose the Lassa-Mason Bill is because it’s clearly designed to take away local control from Wisconsin’s second-largest city, Madison, in regards to taxicab regulation. Furthermore, I highly suspect that this is part of a coordinated attack to put a successful business, Union Cab of Madison Cooperative, out of business for purely political reasons, something which I strongly oppose. Also, I strongly believe that any Democratic elected official who supports legislation that allows companies like Uber and Lyft to operate with very few regulations is effectively a traitor to the progressives who vote them into office, and I would have no problem supporting progressive-minded primary challengers to corporate Democrats who support the Lassa-Mason Bill and/or other parts of the political agenda of Uber and other ridesharing companies.

Refusing to provide a certain type of product is not the same thing as refusing to serve customers because of who they are

In the wake of Republican-controlled state governments in Indiana and Arkansas passing religious discrimination laws, right-wing bible-thumpers have tried to frame small businesses who refuse to bake cakes containing messaging that LGBT people would find highly offensive. The bible-thumpers are doing this by trying to order a cake containing anti-LGBT messaging and, when the business refuses to make such a cake for them, claiming that the business is discriminating against them.

Azucar Bakery, a Denver, Colorado small business that makes cakes and Peruvian-style desserts, was the target of a bogus legal complaint for refusing to make a cake that contained offensive anti-LGBT messaging. Bill Jack, an anti-LGBT bigot from Castle Rock, Colorado, tried to order a cake from Azucar Bakery that featured icing depicting two groomsmen with a red “X” over them and messages claiming that homosexuality is a sin. Marjorie Silva, the owner of Azucar Bakery, refused to write the messages that Jack wanted on his cake, and Silva offered to bake a cake that contained no messages whatsoever and give Jack a pastry bag and icing so that he could decorate the cake with bigotry himself. Jack filed a state civil rights complaint against Silva and Azucar Bakery, and the Colorado Civil Rights Division rejected Jack’s complaint, ruling that Silva and Azucar Bakery did not discriminate against Jack. Azucar Bakery is selling t-shirts with anti-hate messages printed on them; you can buy the t-shirts here.

Cut the Cake Bakery, a Longwood, Florida small business that also makes cakes, has been subjected to threats and negative online reviews for refusing to provide bigoted televangelist Joshua Feuerstein with a cake decorated with anti-LGBT messaging. After Feuerstein uploaded a video of his phone call with Cut the Cake Bakery to YouTube, Feuerstein’s bigoted followers posted negative reviews of Cut the Cake Bakery online and left phone messages threatening the owner of the business, Sharon Haller. Cyndol Knarr, Haller’s daughter, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to support Cut the Cake Bakery; you can donate to that campaign here.

What the bible-thumping bigots in this country don’t understand is that refusing to provide a certain type of product, in this case, cakes decorated with hateful messages that gays, lesbians, bisexual people, and transgender people would find highly offensive, is not discrimination, so as long as their policy to not provide certain types of products is applied equally to all customers. What is discrimination is when a business refuses to serve customers because of who they are, such as the Walkerton, Indiana-based pizza parlor Memories Pizza publicly refusing to cater to the weddings of same-sex couples because the people who are getting married are of the same gender. Business owners have the right to refuse to manufacture and/or sell a product that they don’t want to provide to anybody, whether it be because the product in question conflicts with their values or otherwise.

I strongly oppose this effort by right-wing hate mongerers to frame small businesses who are unwilling to sell anything with bigotry and hate speech on it.

Michigan-based small business finds an interesting use for old wine bottles

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I have NOT received any money from Fresh Coast Candles and/or anyone affiliated with Fresh Coast Candles to write this blog post, and, if offered any money by Fresh Coast Candles and/or anyone affiliated with Fresh Coast Candles, I would refuse to accept the money.


One small business in Holland, Michigan has found a very interesting use for old wine bottles and other types of bottles.

Fresh Coast Candles, a small business based in Holland, Michigan, is manufacturing candles by taking old wine bottles and other types of bottles, cutting and sanding them, and filling them with soy wax, “essential oils”, and a candle wick. With far too many wine bottles and other types of bottles ending up in landfills, it’s nice to see someone take old wine bottles and other types of bottles and reuse them for something.

You can view Fresh Coast Candles’s website here and its Facebook page here.

CONFIRMED: Plexus shipped jobs to foreign countries after being awarded tax breaks from Scott Walker’s WEDC

The administration of Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is giving me a ton of material for my upcoming book about corporate welfare that I intend to release sometime in February of next year.

Greg Neumann, the host of a Wisconsin political talk show called Capitol City Sunday on WKOW-TV, the ABC affiliate in Madison, Wisconsin, confirmed that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) had given millions of dollars in tax credits to Plexus Corporation, a Neenah, Wisconsin-based manufacturer that makes electronic components, after they had laid off 116 workers at its Neenah plant and moved the jobs to a foreign country.

Earlier this year, Neumann originally reported that Plexus had announced in July of 2012 that they laid off 116 of its Neenah workers after having been awarded $2 million in tax credits from the WEDC in 2011, as well $15 million in tax credits in 2012.

Neumann’s follow-up report noted that, according to an official petition filed with the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, Plexus actually laid off the 116 workers in May of 2012:

In July of 2012, Plexus announced it was letting go of 116 workers from its facility in Neenah.  But the layoffs actually came a few months before that.  A Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) petition filed with the U.S. Department of Labor on behalf of the impacted workers states the layoffs were actually implemented by Plexus on May 7, 2012.

Additionally, Neumann reported that the laid-off workers are still receiving federal trade adjustment benefits:

The review concluded only that Plexus is no longer shifting such production, but did in 2012 when it laid off 116 workers from its Neenah facility.

Still the TAA benefits are being allowed to continue flowing to the impacted workers. According to the new ruling, the criteria for benefits has been met because “a significant number or proportion of the workers in such workers’ firm have become totally or partially separated, or are threatened to become totally or partially separated.”

The ruling goes on to state that the production of printed circuit boards by Plexus has “decreased absolutely” and because “customer imports of articles like or directly competitive with the printed circuit board assemblies produced by Plexus Corporation have increased.”

The ruling states those imports also contributed to further workers losing their jobs at Plexus.

It has been confirmed without a shadow of a doubt that Plexus was awarded tax breaks from the WEDC, Scott Walker’s corporate welfare agency, after Plexus had shipped American jobs to foreign countries. This proves that Scott Walker’s corporate welfare agenda has done nothing but waste Wisconsinites’ taxpayer money and effectively ship their taxpayer money to foreign countries.