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Feds ramp up pressure on GOP lawmaker who owes $750,000

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The Justice Department is increasing the pressure on a Minnesota state senator who has not responded to a lawsuit filed in January that alleges he owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to the federal government.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Minnesota Tuesday ordered Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, to immediately pay the government $748,532, KSTP reports.

Nienow and his wife, Cynthia, took out a $613,000 loan from the Small Business Administration in 2009 to purchase a business called the National Camp Association, which was aimed at helping parents find camps for their children and providing support services for camps, according to the Star Tribune. The business is no longer operating, and the Nienows stopped making payments on the loan in July 2010, the lawsuit alleges.

Sen. Nienow, who describes himself as a fiscal conservative, spoke briefly to KSTP reporter Tom Hauser Tuesday afternoon at the state Capitol, and was asked why he hasn't responded to the lawsuit.

"That'll all get worked out as we move along...we're just in the process of having discussions," he said.

When asked if all the money is gone, he said, "that's part of what we're discussing right now."

The federal government is asking for repayment of $558,000 in principal and more than $190,000 in interest and court costs, according to KSTP.

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