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Business practices should be checked

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Former Kansas City Mayor Emanuel Cleaver is running for Congress in the upcoming Democratic primary. But Cleaver is again in hot water over his financial picture. And this time, Gov. Bob Holden should be forced to call an investigation into allegations that first surfaced this week.

I don't mean to pick on Cleaver but I'm all for picking on a state program that ignores state policy in what might be viewed as a favor to a powerful Democratic politician.

Cleaver received an $80,000 state-backed business loan in 2001 as part of an enterprise zone program. Problem is, his business was not in an enterprise zone. A state spokesman said Tuesday that Cleaver's car wash business shared many of the characteristics of an enterprise zone such as economic poverty. But if it's state policy to award loans outside of enterprise zones then why have the designation in the first place?

To complicate matters, apparently Cleaver was remiss in paying workers compensation insurance on his employees as well. State records show no premiums paid until just two weeks ago when apparently Cleaver caught wind of a newspaper probe into his business practices.

Cleaver denied the loan was used to purchase the building which would be against the loan policy. He said it was to secure a larger loan from a bank. Bank records indicate otherwise.

Cleaver was in the news not too long ago when it was revealed he had not paid his tax bill. But shortly thereafter, he secured a loan and the taxes were paid. Cleaver declined to detail where that loan money was from.

Candidates for any office must be able to take the heat on their personal business. And if that heat is too hot, voters will respond.

Now it's time for Gov. Holden to question why state policy was ignored. To ignore this flap would be a political mistake for Holden and a mistake for the taxpayers of Missouri who fund these low income loan programs.



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