Marketplace Op-Ed Series: Red tape can slow, but not stop a great product and business

By Debbie Pruneri McKeown

This story originally appeared on TheBlaze.com

This column is part of our ongoing series of op-eds this election season from small business owners working with The Marketplace by TheBlaze. We often hear politicians talk about what small business owners want, and if elected, what public officials could do to help these entrepreneurs. But we haven’t heard enough from small business owners themselves. This series will feature small business owners discussing their business, ‘how they built that,’ and what it has been like trying to sustain and grow their business over the last 4 years. 

I retired in 2006 from a 30-year career with GTE/Verizon. In January 2009, I began researching and laying the ground work to begin my new business. I originally wanted to produce “homemade” sausage and pasta sauce, inspired by my father, renowned for his sausage varieties. I quickly realized meat product, refrigeration & health regulations in California were going to be a huge hurdle. I settled for packaging a selection of  my father’s original “seasoning blends”, along with a selection of Balsamic Vinegars & Olive Oils.

In April 2009, Migliore Gourmet Distributors became an LLC, with the help of Legal Zoom.

That was the easy part. I then needed money. Initially, I used money from my savings, but soon realized I would need a business LOC or loan.  I went to my local banker of 20+ years, but was turned down for lack of years in business, needed to show profit and they would not consider my personal “retirement/401K” portfolio as collateral. I could not use my house either, because my business would be out of my home, not a business building. I called my contact at my local Chamber of Commerce to find a chamber member in banking, only to be told the same thing. I could not find any assistance for “small business (SBA), or woman owned/minority business. Eventually, I did receive a business LOC from the Bank of North Dakota located in Scottsdale, Arizona, which happened because of family friendship with the VP of the Bank. However, two years later, BNC was taken over by another small bank, that converted my LOC to a 4 year TERM Loan! Therefore, my business LOC comes from my personal credit cards and balance transfers when necessary.

To introduce my products, I began seeking trade shows, i.e., Home Shows, Fairs,Festivals, Food Shows, Home Parties – I would try just about any venue to see what clicked! I quickly learned that I would need Health Permits, Food Safety Certificates & more, if I wanted to provide any samples of my food products. Every county and every city has a variation of rules and requirements, not to mention additional fees. In some cities, I am required to purchase a business permit, even if it is for one day. I have a business permit that was issued in my county and they require us to add our “temp” shows to our permit, which allows them to apply any sales tax made at the event, to the appropriate city/county. Some cities also require us to have a fire extinguisher in our tent/space and will conduct a fire inspection prior to the event.

In September 2009 I rented space at the Los Angeles County Fair. This would be my first and last experience with fairs. I hired (6) of my friends as “casual/contractor” show assistants. I had consulted with my CPA and understood I could have casual workers during the year, as long as they did not exceed $600.00. The State of California requires Worker’s Compensation, regardless of number of hours or wage, as long as you (the business owner) provide a time that the “helper” is to be in your booth. That cost me an additional $703.00 in Worker’s Compensation Insurance for 30 days!

In January 2010, I received my first Corporate Tax Bill for $880.00, which is an annual fee. Fortunately, I sell “prepackaged” food items, which are exempt from Sales and Use Tax. However, I have some “gifting” options, crafted bags, dipping saucers, baskets, which are taxable. After diving into the “rules”, I did find certain items can be tax exempt, if included in your food “gift” basket. However, 2011 the Board of Equalization changed their electronic filing tool, which included a long form “district tax.” After spending eight hours on line, reading and populating the tool, I asked my friend and former CPA if she could figure it out. She spent another 3 hours – failed too. I called the Board and did receive a person that was able to help me out. At the end of the day, I owed California Board of Equalization $6.40 Sales and Use Tax for 2011.

Moving past government cost and challenge, I needed to learn all aspects of my business, as the only “full-time” employee. Quickbooks is far smarter than the original debit and credit columns I was trained on in college accounting! Vendors, Co-Packers, Inventory and shipping have improved with pure customer experiences and volume demand.

Finding a reputable website host with good security was very important. This is another very time consuming part of my business. Maintaining, updating and reviewing the content of my site, is MY responsibility. Newsletters and social media are crucial to my business, so I have taken webinars and classes to stay updated.

I joined the NASFT (National Association Specialty Food Trade) in 2009, which provides great resources for small business. I have taken advantage of their membership discounts for shipping programs. They have on-line publications that have provided “free” feature space. At the NASFT summer and winter shows, we have an opportunity to set up meetings, Business to Business, with large companies that would not typically be easy to contact. For my annual $300.00 membership fee, NASFT has been a tremendous resource and one of the best “springboards” for my gourmet food items.

Entering 2012, I have formed (3) partnerships with other websites. Two of the websites specialize in “gift shopping” and have “free” membership requirements. Markdown is the third and most exciting website, providing fantastic exposure and opportunity. More importantly, it gives me of a great deal of personal satisfaction and pride to be a part of this organization.

Just as many other small business owners, I was offended by President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” remarks in Virginia this past July, dismissing any credit of success being given to business owners.

He also stated “The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet”, which is also incorrect. In 1962, the (ARPA) Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense did not wake up one morning and decide to build a network for companies to “make money.” It was another decade before email even became available to a select few large companies, mostly “defense contractor” related. Not until the late 80’s, did the NSF (National Science Foundation) realize the significance of the internet and commercial interest. Obama must have borrowed Al Gore’s playbook on the Internet!

If we learned nothing from the media over the past 4 years it's that colluding with a foreign entity to either win an election or for personal gain is absolutely grotesque. Well, that depends on whether you have a (D) or (R) before your name anyway. President Trump was impeached on rumor and innuendo yet Joe Biden has all but skated on his corruption up to this point.

Below is a timeline that shows the level of corruption and the lengths the Biden's went to in order to build that family's wealth and influence internationally.

2009

In 2009, Joe Biden was the brand-new Vice President and John Kerry was a U.S. Senator. Just five months after Joe was sworn in, his son Hunter, and Kerry's stepson, Christopher Heinz, formed an international private equity firm called Rosemont Capital. It had several different branches, including one called Rosemont Seneca Partners.

2010

Just nine months after Rosemont Seneca opened its doors, Hunter Biden went to China for meetings with executives from China's biggest banks, and its sovereign wealth and social security funds. That's unheard-of access for a brand-new firm. Was it just coincidence that at the same time Hunter was meeting these Chinese bigwigs, his dad was meeting with China's then-president Hu Jintao in Washington DC at a nuclear security summit?

2011

In May 2011, Joe Biden met with Chinese officials for the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue conference in Washington. Just two weeks later, Hunter Biden went to Taiwan for meetings with the same Chinese financial giants he'd met in China in 2010, plus some new ones.

2013

By December 2013, Joe Biden was enjoying his second term as VP, and John Kerry was now Secretary of State. That's when Joe traveled to Beijing on an extended official trip and Hunter traveled with him on Air Force Two.

During their stay, Vice President Biden met with President Xi and Hunter was mostly out of sight. We don't know exactly what he was up to, but the deal finalized between Rosemont Seneca and the Bank of China just ten days after the Bidens' trip pretty much gives it away. The most powerful financial institution in China formed a joint venture with tiny Rosemont Seneca to create a giant new investment firm called Bohai Harvest RST – the "RS" stands for Rosemont Seneca.

The firm is often called "BHR" for short.

Hunter Biden was a member of the Board. Remember, the Bank of China is government-owned, which means its business is completely intertwined with the goals of the Chinese Communist Party. BHR also got the freedom to operate in the newly created Shanghai Free-Trade Zone where, over the next six years, it would use $2.5 billion of Chinese government money to invest in China, as well as in other countries, including the U.S.

During their Beijing trip, Hunter also introduced Jonathan Li to his dad. Li is Hunter's business partner – he's CEO and Director of BHR.

Hunter arranged for Joe to meet Li in the lobby of the hotel where they stayed during their Beijing trip.

2014

In 2014, one of BHR's first major investments was in the China General Nuclear Power Corporation.

CGN is a Chinese government-owned nuclear power company that sold off a stake of the company to outside investors. Problem is, CGN was under FBI investigation for paying informants in the U.S. to steal nuclear secrets.

In 2016, the FBI arrested the ringleader of this nuclear espionage, a man named Allen Ho.

When they arrested Ho, he was using a random code generator to access funds being provided to him from – where else? – the Bank of China.

Yet while this FBI probe was going on, the son of the Vice President owned a stake in the company being investigated. And even after arrests were made, Rosemont Seneca did not alter its relationship with BHR, nor did it divest from CGN, even though it was stealing U.S. nuclear secrets.

2015

In 2015, BHR partnered with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to buy an American company called Henniges for $600 million.

AVIC is a gigantic military contractor in China – think Lockheed Martin – that makes fighter jets, bombers and drones. BHR bought 49% of Henniges and AVIC bought 51%.

Henniges is a precision parts manufacturer specializing in anti-vibration technology. The stuff they make is known as "dual use" by the U.S. State Department, which means the technology can also have a military application.

Because of that, the deal had to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) since it could have national security implications. The thing is, the American side of BHR – meaning Hunter Biden and his pals – had to know there were serious national security implications with AVIC.

The year before they formed a partnership with AVIC, the Wall Street Journal reported how AVIC stole technology related to the U.S. Air Force's F-35 stealth fighter and used it in its own stealth fighter for the Chinese.

How the Committee on Foreign Investment approved that deal remains a mystery. CFIUS does not publicly disclose any information regarding its decisions. Their findings are not publicly announced.

Interesting that China accounted for the largest share – with 74 transactions – approved by CFIUS during Obama's second term (2013-2015).

Under the umbrella of Rosemont Capital was a real estate company called Rosemont Realty. In 2015, a Chinese company called Gemini Investments bought a 75% stake in Rosemont Realty. The company was renamed Gemini Rosemont

Gemini brought $3 billion to the partnership with Rosemont, with the aim of buying "Class A institutional-quality commercial office properties in U.S. markets."

Red flag (literally) – Gemini Investments is a subsidiary of the China Ocean Shipping Company, a.k.a., "COSCO."

COSCO is a Chinese government-owned company. Its headquarters in Beijing is actually next to the headquarters of the Bank of China. COSCO is well-known for its close military ties. It's essentially a branch of the Chinese Navy.

2017

In 2017, BHR invested in Face++. That's the facial recognition phone app built by a Chinese company that is incorporated in a separate app built by the Chinese government. Police in the Xinjiang [Sin-jong] region of China use that app to keep tabs on citizens, and track and detain Uiguhr [Wee-ger] Muslims.

The app allows police easy access to data about Chinese Muslims including things like religious activity, blood type, and even the amount of electricity they use.

2018

In March 2018, a spokesman (Chris Bastardi) for Christopher Heinz (John Kerry's stepson) emailed The Hill to say that Heinz had "no operating role" in Rosemont Seneca, and that he was not involved in any of Rosemont's deals in China (which contradicts Schweizer's report in his book Secret Empires).

Chris Heinz was involved in Rosemont Capital. Rosemont Seneca was established under the same GP as Rosemont Capital, but Chris Heinz had no operating role in it. Chris and his family have no financial interest or investment in Bohai Harvest RST, he has never traveled to China, and he has never met with the firm's Chinese management team or investors.

2019

In October 2019, Hunter Biden's lawyer, George Mesires, said Hunter did not conduct any business on that 2013 trip to Beijing with his Dad.

Mesires said the timing of BHR's business license getting approved was purely coincidental because the paperwork had been submitted months before the Bidens' China trip.

According to Hunter's lawyer, the approval " was not related in any way, shape or form to Hunter's visit."

Hunter Biden finally stepped down from the BHR board last October (2019), but he DID NOT give up his 10% stake in the company.

When Bevan Cooney — the former "junior" business partner to Hunter Biden and Devon Archer — went to jail in 2019, investigative reporter and New York Times bestselling author Peter Schweizer thought he'd never gain access to the damning emails Cooney had promised. That all changed three weeks ago when Schweizer was given complete access to Cooney's gmail account.

Schweizer joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday to describe just some of the business deals revealed within these emails — like Hunter working with an alleged Russian criminal and with Chinese communists to secure their assets, or to secure one-on-one time with his dad, then-Vice President Joe Biden. And all of this new information is completely separate from the emails allegedly discovered on Hunter Biden's laptop recently reported by the New York Post.

"So, I want to make this clear. This [Cooney's emails] has nothing to do with what's on the laptop … It didn't come from [Rudy] Giuliani. It didn't come from anybody else, right?" Glenn asked Schweizer.

"That's absolutely correct," Schweizer confirmed.

He briefly explained how Cooney, a former Los Angeles nightclub owner, is currently serving a prison sentence for his involvement in a fraudulent business bond scheme with Biden and Archer. From prison, Cooney gave Schweizer written permission to access his Gmail account.

"This is really important," he noted. "We're not looking at printouts. Not looking at PDFs. We're actually in his Gmail accounts themselves, sifting through these emails. And there's a shocking amount of information about deals involving China, involving Russia, involving all sorts of things they were trying to pull off."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

The king of "No Spin" and bestselling author of "Killing Crazy Horse," Bill O'Reilly joined Glenn Beck on this week's podcast to talk about the latest developments in Joe Biden's Ukraine and China corruption scandal. Now that some of the details are finally coming out in the open, does the average Democrat care? Maybe, but the Left doesn't seem to.

O'Reilly argued there's more hatred for President Donald Trump now than in 2016, and that some people hate President Trump so much that they'd rather vote for the "senile, corrupt" Joe Biden.

"Hunter got tens of millions of dollars from Ukraine, from Russia, from China because his father was vice president. I have no doubt in my mind," O'Reilly said. "But the hatred for Donald Trump overrides that in the minds of millions of viewers. They're saying, 'You know, we'd rather have the senile corrupt guy than Trump.'"

Asked by Glenn if any other Republican running for president would be met with the same level of vitriol, O'Reilly answered, "The Left is the Left. They don't like America. The want to redo the Constitution. They want to take some of our freedoms, like the Second Amendment and the First Amendment, and change them. And they want to destroy capitalism and replace it with a big centralized government in Washington that controls the economy … but I'm talking about the folks. I have liberal friends and I say to them, 'Do you not understand that when you vote for Biden, you're voting against your own self interest?'"

Watch the video clip from the full podcast below, or find the full episode HERE:

Want to listen to more Glenn Beck podcasts?

Subscribe to Glenn Beck's channel on YouTube for FREE access to more of his masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, or subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

In a phone call with his constituents, Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb) unleashed a torrent of criticisms about President Donald Trump, saying he "flirted with white supremacists," "kisses dictators' butts," and "spends like a drunken sailor."

On the radio program Friday, Glenn said he was disappointed in Sen. Sasse for apparently forgetting all of President Trump's accomplishments. Because, in reality, Trump has accomplished a lot more than many presidents before him.

Then, for anyone who may have forgotten President Trump's achievements — or who simply hate the man so much they've ignored them — Glenn listed just some of the many things this president has achieved during his three and a half years in the White House.

Watch the video below to hear Glenn's message for all the Trump-haters who have forgotten Trump's accomplishments, or you can read Glenn's list HERE:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.