From the desk of John Lopez: Why I find these required by federal law filings so useful to vet candidates
Over the past two years I’ve been contributing to McHenry County Blog, when reading/watching congressional candidates (both House and Senate), I’ve seen and learned so much.
With God-given gifts of discernment, I apply the discernment to candidates and genuinely hope blog readers can apply their own discernment and make informed choices not only for candidates for Congress, but all levels of government at election time.
If the information I provide particularly at the federal level help, combined with the great work Cal Skinner many in the community find useful, then the blessings are shared, and used to make informed choices on election day.
Since my intensive coverage of the 2020 congressional campaigns, especially the IL-06 and IL-14 in 2020 and now, IL-16 for 2022, a tool I’ve found useful to help vet candidates is the Financial Disclosure reports (FD) congressional candidates are required to file once their campaign has raised and/or spent $5K.
For refresher, here is what an FD is:
Because candidates to challenge Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R, IL-16) must self-disclose their finances as required by federal law, the voting public should take full advantage of this information not only for local congressional candidates who will appear on their ballot, but also to consider which candidates across the country one may invest in via campaign contributions.
Recently, I began vetting candidates in IL-16, and while in my honest opinion James Marter’s (R, Oswego) FD is a model FD, candidates Jack Lombardi (R, Manhatten) and Catalina Lauf (R, Woodstock) leave something to be desired.
I will begin writing about both Lauf and finishing vetting Lombardi’s FD soon, as life challenges took me away from these writings in recent weeks.
Something I have found about candidates who claim to be “successful small business people”, “entrepreneurs” or “start-ups” is documented proof these start-ups exist or even existed. In my first article about Lombardi’s FD, I guided how I had to find the truth to identify the name of his business, when it should have been fully disclosed on the FD.
I’m finding similar inconsistencies and omissions from Lauf.
This isn’t limited to Illinois, as candidate Madison Cawthorn (R, NC-11) during his surprise wins in 2020, had issues disclosing his business holdings, and other candidates either didn’t file an FD (Kim Klacik of MD-07), or filed incomplete FDs (Lauf, September 2019) to the point they needed to file an amended FD (Lauf, October 2019).
Given the millennials (and I use the Pew Research Center definition of a “millennial” of birth year from 1981 through 1996) talk a lot about entrepreneurship in their resume’s showing they are successful as small business persons, let me show what I’m looking for when anyone makes that kind of claim, and the FD is where candidates must document these claims.
In NV-04, Lisa Song Sutton ran for the House in the June 9 Republican primary last year. The former Miss Nevada 2014, who was 35 on primary day last year, ran on many issues, and successful entrepreneur ready to represent small businesses in Congress was one of many strengths.
Unlike Lauf, and lesser degree Lombardi, Song Sutton’s business success is backed up by her FD. Here’s an excerpt from her 2020 filing in May of last year:
So in the excerpt, Song Sutton’s real estate brokerage, e-commerce swimwear and what she’s best known for, her cupcakes bakery business (complete with a Texas-based company with royalties unearned income), are fully documented, and the range of the “Owner’s Draw” of unearned income is documented.
Note, her interest at bottom of excerpt also documents fully the business name, including “doing business as” (d/b/a) of an assumed name.
Being successful in business by itself is no guarantee for a win in a Republican primary let alone a general election, just as military service by itself doesn’t guarantee victory. But combined with proven success in business, plus her education background including a law degree, Republican luminaries including millennials Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R, TX-02) and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21) both openly backed Song Sutton last year pre-primary.
Song Sutton finished 3rd in the 8-candidate Republican primary with 15.1% of the vote, in spite of her proven business experience and her high profile endorsements. Her lack of voter participation for 12 years in Nevada elections coming to light in the final weeks of the primary campaign, was one dig against Song Sutton.
She lost to a former one-term Nevada state legislator in his mid-60s (34.7 % of vote) and a U.S. Air Force veteran in his 40s (28%) with decades in private business. The remaining 5 candidates all finished in single digits.
Feedback concerning Song Sutton, in addition to her lack of voting, was she’s too young, too inexperienced and not enough life experiences, particularly military service, marriage or motherhood.
Song Sutton has ruled out another congressional bid in 2022.
As stated earlier, the FD is a tool to help vet candidates for Congress, and one which should be used for the 2022 election cycle.
To view Lisa Song Sutton’s two FDs (filed in 2019 and 2020), links are below:
In order to query the database for FDs for all Members of the House or candidates, click here and if looking up a candidate, click the “SEARCH CANDIDATES” tab before filling-in the additional information.
A separate article will be needed to guide how to find an FD for a U.S. Senate candidate.