A Virginia Republican running for Congress on his business record claimed his plans to expand in Pennsylvania would benefit his district with jobs and allow him to spend more locally.
It turns out, neither is the case.
Denver Riggleman, who is running for the open seat in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District and operates a distillery that depends on grain to make its whiskey, said in September that he would continue to use Virginia as an “agricultural base” while he expands his business to East Stroudsburg, Pa.
In a debate, Riggleman said his company — Silverback Distillery — would continue to buy his grain in Virginia and would use “a hub and spoke system and spread it around the country,” but recently discovered video suggested he was misleading his would-be constituents.
But in a February speech at Americans for Prosperity’s 2018 Virginia Lobby Day, Riggleman admitted that one of the primary reasons he was moving his distillery to Pennsylvania was because grain would be cheaper there.
“Agriculturally, I can’t buy grains from farmers in the state of Virginia. You want to know why? Because there’s no demand,” he said, explaining why a native Virginian would move to the Keystone State.
His suggestion that GOP tax cuts would allow him to create 20 new jobs in Virginia was also misleading.
In a forum in Lynchburg, Riggleman claimed that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allowed his business to create 20 additional jobs. But, as reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in July 2017, Silverback had already planned to create up to 17 jobs in Pennsylvania, casting doubt on his claims that the jobs were due to the tax cuts.
Riggleman has pointed to his small-business career in Virginia as proof that he knows how to create jobs, but his wife, Christine, has threatened to move the business out of Virginia entirely unless state liquor laws were changed.
Last year, Christine Riggleman planned multiple trips to scout prospective locations for expansion beyond Pennsylvania.
At the heart of the Rigglemans’ decision to relocate was a markup sales tax on products sold from distillery tasting rooms.
In 2017 Denver Riggleman campaigned heavily on repealing the markup as part of his gubernatorial campaign.
In February 2018, as the state Senate was considering a bill to ease the markup tax, Christine Riggleman told WEBJ7 that Silverback and her property “were being shown to buyers because that’s our backup plan. If these bills don’t pass then we have to leave and this is our home state.”