Erik Ketelaar, Wannabe GOP Bigwig, Under Fire from Clients of His Company Tio Sam Taxes

Erik Ketelaar (third from right) at the GOP gubernatorial forum he recently hosted. (From left, former California Congressman Frank Riggs, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, unidentified male, Erik Ketelaar, Christine Jones and Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey.)

Leslie Lara figures Tio Sam Taxes, owned by local Republican bigwig wannabe Erik Ketelaar, owes her about $1,267, the combined amount of her federal tax refunds for 2012 and 2013.

The company, which at one time had six locations in Phoenix and Mesa, heavily marketed its services to Hispanics, advertising on Univision and employing homeless people to dress as "Tio Sam" (Spanish for "Uncle Sam") and twirl signs on street corners.

Bilingual fliers for the business promised: "No charge until you receive your refund," which sounded good to Lara.

"They said they would take their fee when they received a check," she told me recently.

She showed me a copy of her 2013 tax return, which directed that her refund check be sent to a Tio Sam's location near 36th Street and Thomas Road in Phoenix.

The company instructed her to check back in about four weeks after the date on the return, April 2014.

At first, when she called, they told her they hadn't received her check yet. She gave it a couple of more weeks and started calling again.

One time, she says, she was told that the company had her check and that she could pick it up at a Tio Sam location on the west side.

But when she went on the date specified, the location was closed. She then traveled to what she thought was the main office, and it was closed, too.

When a woman finally answered the company's main line, she was of no help.

"She said, 'Oh, [the company's bank account] is frozen. There's nothing I can do,'" Lara explained.

Lara was one of about 25 people who gathered at a Methodist church in Phoenix recently to relate their Tio Sam stories to lawyers and representatives of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Local LULAC officer Lydia Guzman told me that her organization intends to turn over the information the group gathered to federal law enforcement.

"We're going to make sure these people get their money and that they get justice," she told me.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Erik Ketelaar wrote me a bad check. He is an accountant, and he wrote bad checks. He isn't even good at being a CPA.


Your the best hope he never has another opportunity to take anyones money again

66rock topcommenter

Oh looky the next GOP Az state senator!

WhoKnows topcommenter

These "want to be a GOP bigwig" types are simply too stupid to understand ethics and what sane people expect.....


lol, US POlitics. Best politics money can buy lol.


In addition to "reducing red tape and lowering taxes," almost all Republicans are in favor of reducing citizens' rights to bring small lawsuits against private companies like Ketelaar's (which they like to describe as "frivolous").  So it doesn't surprise me that he's insinuating himself with gubernatorial candidates from the GOP.
What a scumbag.  As usual, people least able to afford it are the ones being ripped off.  Tio Bandito, more like it.


Classic...a guy who is an incompetent businessman at best, and a scummy, money-stealing, criminal slimeball at worst, blames the IRS for all his problems instead of his own slimy, sketchy business practices. Of course said guy becomes a GOP kingmaker; the GOP hates the IRS too, just like he does. And just like him the GOP wants to do away with all those evil, nasty regulations designed to keep slimy scumbags like him  from stealing vulnerable people's money so they can make a profit...uh...I mean....designed to keep good ol 'mercun small business people from making an honest living! Yeah, that's what I mean....

It's so predictable it's not even funny anymore....


He sounds like the perfect guy to teach a course in Republican Business Ethics.

eric.nelson745 topcommenter

Why is the IRS so coy about whether or not this crook is being investigated? That is a mystery all by itself. Hopefully he'll someday be running his business from a prison cell, just like a Mafia don. Oh, has anyone contacted the BBB? Surely they have something on him.

MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

This guy is a con artist.

Nothing more and nothing less.


As a first class Republican operative, Erik has the all purpose answer to the problem of not getting the refunds to his sucke. . ., I mean customers-----It's OBAMA's fault!!!


@eric.nelson745 It's not a matter of being coy.  I seriously doubt any government agency would confirm or deny an investigation against any private citizen.  They might say "the situation" is being looked at but I seriously doubt they would confirm looking at charges against a GOP bigwig.

Now Trending

Phoenix Concert Tickets

From the Vault