‘My office has the duty to … protect businesses that are complying with the order from unfair competition…’
A tearful Shady’s owner Kris Schiffler says he’s not opening his bar and grill on advice of his attorney, after getting a call from MN Attorney General Keith Ellison. “They have shut us down.” pic.twitter.com/LfNumzsf6h
— Kirsti Marohn (@kirstimarohn) May 18, 2020
Kris Schiffler, who owns six Shady’s restaurants in central Minnesota, told a crowd outside his Albany location on Monday that his eatery would not be reopening due to Ellison’s threats, according to the St. Cloud Times.
“But we do plan on reopening very soon,” he added. “Our attorneys are working on everything as fast as they can.”
Ellison said in his lawsuit that Schiffler’s plans would violate Gov. Tim Walz’s shelter-in-place order, which does not end until June 1.
“My office has the duty to enforce the law and the Governor’s order, to protect Minnesotans’ health, and to protect businesses that are complying with the order from unfair competition,” he said. “I take that duty seriously.”
Ellison also said that if Schiffler does violate Walz’s shutdown, he could face a fine of $25,000 per day, and Schiffler could lose his operating license.
Ellison also threatened to audit Schiffler’s restaurants, Schiffler told his supporters on Monday.
“The risk isn’t worth the reward at the end of the day,” he said. “[Ellison] just keeps threatening us with more things and more things and more things. And now he wants to audit our taxes.”
The targeted harassment is nothing new for Ellison, a former U.S. congressman and deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee who retired his seat in scandal after allegations by Ellison’s ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan, that he had committed domestic abuse.
Despite the stain of the inconclusive investigation—overseen by Minnesota’s Democratic party—he was able to coast to victory in the 2018 election for state attorney general. Since then, he has gone on to persecute Christians and act as a mentor to his congressional successor, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
But like many independent business owners facing down the authoritarian state orders to shutter their financial livelihoods, Schiffler said he planned to fight back.
In response to Ellison’s harassment, he launched a GoFundMe to cover the legal costs for small businesses in the state that want to challenge Walz’s order. As of Wednesday morning, the fund had received more than double its target goal of $100,000.
“We, along with countless other MN small businesses, have suffered long enough,” the GoFundMe states.
“We unfortunately can’t survive on just take-out orders,” it continues. “We need our business back just like so many others do. This isn’t a fight we should HAVE to fight, but it is a fight we are GOING to fight!”
Already, though, the effort has experienced one setback in an activist courtroom where the
A Stearns County judge upheld Ellison’s suit, arguing that Schiffler’s “patrons, employees, and the general public will suffer irreparable harm” unless Schiffler keeps his restuarants closed.
Ellison insisted that he sympathized with Minnesota’s small business owners, but defended the state’s continued shutdown.
“As hard as it is for them—and I know it’s hard—the vast majority of restaurants are doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep themselves, their families, their employees, and their customers safe from this deadly pandemic,” Ellison said, according to KARE-11.
“The owner of Shady’s, however, has declared his intention to break the law and endanger his customers and employees,” Ellison continued.
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.