While attempting to erase former employers from her employment history, Lauf discloses business ownership in California-based business but omitted California as location
Note from McHenry County Blog: Numerous attempts were made asking the Catalina for Congress campaign for responses to many of the issues/questions raised in this article, and none were returned.
Catalina Lauf’s (R, Woodstock) Financial Disclosure statement (FD) hit the online portal the morning of August 16.
Additionally, late Friday afternoon (October 1st), the Washington Examiner published an op-ed piece on the IL-16 race titled “Meet the Republican who wants to take [Adam] Kinzinger’s seat — if Democrats don’t take it first” by Commentary Writer Kaylee McGhee White on the opinion page, and included the following passage describing Lauf:
“Lauf, a small business owner…”
A similar reference was made to Lauf in recent interviews, including half-hour with Lara Trump.
Recalling last year in various congressional races across the country, claims to small business ownership by some millennial candidates could not be confirmed (or were found to be an embellishment), and recalling the due diligence needed to track down IL-16 Republican candidate Jack Lombardi’s (R, Manhatten) business name, I was prepared to do the same for Lauf, with some of the findings here.
Reading Lauf’s FD, and using comparisons to her LinkedIn page and her previous FD amended report filed in October 2019 during her IL-14 candidacy raises many questions.
One of the biggest attack lines used against Lauf is her lack of “life experiences”. While her detractors, both in 2020 and this year, use that term out of convenience against a straw man of a traditional congressional candidate that no longer exists, some of the optics including inconsistencies created by Lauf’s FD compared with her LinkedIn page and other sources has, in my honest opinion raised a risk flag in this area of Lauf’s candidacy.
So has her earned income for calendar years 2018, 2019 (through October), 2020 and 2021 (through July) as reported on her two FDs.
Let’s look at both of Lauf’s FDs, and what I am seeing for her reported earned income as collected from both reports:
- 2018: $45.7K
- 2019 (through Oct): $42K
- 2020: $7K
- 2021 (through Jul?): $4.5K
For reference point, Lauf’s 2020 campaign went from 8/23/19 through the end of March, 2020. Her 2022 campaign began on 2/23/21.
In full context, here are the relevant Schedule C entries from both of Lauf’s FDs, filed in October of 2019 and August of 2021:
While I don’t expect Lauf to be earning 6-figure annual salaries at this stage of life, I expected her annual salary to be at least 5-figures.
Should Republican primary voters expect the same?
But, one’s earnings on an FD can be documented through “unearned income”, particularly through an ownership interest in a business. Noting that fact, here is Lauf’s Schedule A, documenting unearned income and assets:
Of the three entries, Begin Health, INC has an FD asset code of “OL” on the entry, which stands for “Ownership Interest (Engaged in a Trade or Business)”.
Another call out about Lauf’s Schedule A and what’s missing — bank accounts.
Under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 as amended, a congressional candidate who has at least $5K in combined interest-bearing bank account balances, the candidate must disclose the banks where a balance of at least $1K is on deposit.
Lauf reported none, and recalling when I was Lauf’s age decades ago, financial advisors would always point out a responsible individual must be able to quickly access $10K cash if needed without having to convert securities or other investment instruments into cash or go into debt. Based on Lauf’s disclosure, she does not have this kind of personal financial safety stock and while it’s Lauf’s risk to take, Republican primary voters may have a different view.
I recognize through her ownership interest in Begin Health, her income would be reported as “unearned” on the FD. Her stake, which ranges in value from over $15K but does not exceed $50K (per the FD), did not report any income since her signing on as a co-founder/advisor in January of this year.
Lauf does not report income from Begin Health, while not unusual for a start-up once employees, contractors and creditors are paid for the owners to not have income, voters may have a different take, one way or another.
I know the January signing because Lauf’s FD says when her formal ownership agreement was implemented per Schedule F below:
Another entity missing from Lauf’s employment history is “Heartland Global Resources”, which was on her LinkedIn page earlier this year.
Indeed, The Illinoize‘s coverage of Lauf’s entry into the IL-16 Republican primary race in late February, Patrick Pfingsten reported Lauf’s position at Heartland Global Resources.
But on Lauf’s FD, no mention of Heartland Global Resources, and I noticed the reference has been removed from Lauf’s LinkedIn page (though some cache services like RocketReach still have the reference).
But in addition to the absence of Lauf’s previous employment with Heartland Global Resources, is another change Lauf made to her LinkedIn employment history McHenry County Blog found concerning:
Highlighting the title of “Director” for an unnamed political organization during 2018, through November of that year, the unnamed organization was the Citizens for Rauner campaign for then-Governor Bruce Rauner’s failed reelection bid, and included employment during the Republican primary campaign against challenger, then state Representative Jeanne Ives (R, Wheaton).
The Illinois State Board of Elections campaign disclosure reports for Citizens for Rauner throughout 2018 documented the payments made to Lauf as further proof of her employment, including when it began in January of 2018. The start month was omitted from Lauf’s LinkedIn job history. Lauf was paid $43,577 by Citizens for Rauner, per her Schedule C in her 2020 FD.
And the real job title was “Field Director”, as Lauf identified on her FD in October of 2019, Schedule E:
Earlier this year, IL-16 Republican candidate Jack Lombardi’s LinkedIn and other cache services claimed his college alma mater was Northwestern University in Evanston, while in reality, he earned his Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern Business College in Bridgeview, IL.
Lombardi did correct the misinformation and to his credit, he’s consistently cited “Northwestern Business College” as where he went to college.
Earlier this year, commenter Correcting questioned where does Lauf work? I guess I can try to answer that question, sort of.
Based on Lauf’s own FD, Lauf works for Begin Health, INC, the start-up company started by her sister, where Catalina Lauf has received no income through July of 2021. She also received payment of $1,500 for, presumably, a digital marketing gig from Axiom Strategies, the political consulting firm she hired for her 2020 congressional campaign.
And Lauf received payment from her own Defense of Freedom PAC for $3,000 for website development. But according to Defense of Freedom PAC’s semi-annual filing in July of this year with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), through June 30 of this year, Lauf has been reimbursed for $810.24. Therefore, the $3K payment to herself as “earned income” took place after June 30, or within a month and a half prior to Lauf submitting her FD.
Plus, she reported no bank accounts possibly because she does not have access to at least $5K cash in her name (and in her previous FD in October of 2019, Lauf reported no bank accounts, either).
And Heartland Global Resources, named by a reporter, and me because of Lauf’s LinkedIn page has been erased, but within a four year period (2018 through 2021), did not appear once on Lauf’s twice-filed FDs from her IL-14 and IL-16 campaigns.
About Begin Health, INC
Concerning Begin Health, on Lauf and her sister’s Republican National Convention video feature last year, Catalina mentioned the start-up work of her sister’s company, which to my understanding, didn’t launch its product until the fall of 2020, but according to the FD, Catalina’s formal role did not take place until January of 2021.
After doing some research, here is a timeline for the start-up company, and when/where the first public filings going back to late 2018 took place:
- 9/27/18 — Incorporation in the state of Delaware for Pureday Labs, Inc.
- 10/17/18 — Filing with the California secretary of state (CalSOS) of corporate registration with a San Francisco address, with the confirmation of formal incorporation in Delaware. Madeline Lauf (Catalina Lauf’s older sister) listed as the CEO and corporate agent.
- 8/7/20 — Filing of name change to Begin Health, Inc. with CalSOS within the City and County of San Francisco, with confirmation of formal incorporation in Delaware.
- Fall of 2020 — Formal launch of Begin Health, Inc.
Need to go back to the Begin Health, INC entry in Lauf’s Schedule A of her FD filed in August.
Begin Health, Inc. operates out of San Francisco, and all of the California corporate registrations were filed with the CalSOS going back to late 2018. So why is CA not identified on the FD?
While the state of New Hampshire (NH) is identified, I could find no entry at the NH secretary of state business search for Begin Health, Inc., or its Pureday Labs, Inc. predecessor operating in the Granite State, so NH reference looks like a typo.
But as Lauf now touts herself as a “business owner”, one must note it’s a California based company she owns in part which has been in existence for 3 years, but started-up in the past year with its product launch, and her formal role did not begin until January of this year.
Sounds a little like a certain Illinois gubernatorial Republican candidate, whose less-than-10-year-old company also based in northern California, and having a challenge explaining to voters he’s really an Illinoisan, while raising over $10.8 million, all from California.
When Lauf’s next FEC quarterlies are released by the end of next week, will be doing deep dive of monies raised outside of Illinois.
Conclusion: “I have you now!”
Quoting Darth Vader from the original Star Wars movie of 1977 as he honed-in and locked on-target the ship he was pursuing may be odd given all of the confusion Lauf’s FD creates trying to figure out who she works for, let alone disappearing employers, lack of bank accounts and the state where the business she co-founded/advises is in California, and she now claims to be a “business owner”.
Throw in the fact that 2/3 of her $4.5K reported earned income was paid after June 30 up to the date of filing her FD on August 13, and like Darth Vader’s scanner trying to lock-in on a randomly moving target that I should not have problems understanding, one thing I’m NOT saying to myself is: “The Force is strong with this one.”
It’d be funny in a movie, but not funny for the leading contender against Congressman Adam Kinzinger for a seat in the United States Congress.
In Part 2, I will continue the deep dive, beginning with fully understanding the entities she documented outside of Begin Health, Inc, and the employer she did not document, and get to the “I have you now!” when the fruits of my research conclude the finding of the whole truth.
Here’s a hint: the Illinois Secretary of State website, as with Jack Lombardi, has to be used to make complete sense of Lauf’s FD.
Here’s the truth: I shouldn’t have to cross-check anyone’s FD like this when one simply tells the whole truth.
UPDATE: Lauf, “didn’t have a clue”
I owe a sincere apology to Patrick Pfingsten of The Illinoize.
Three days after Catalina Lauf launched her IL-16 congressional candidacy, he caught the questionable entry on Lauf’s LinkedIn page where she doesn’t cite Citizens for Rauner as a previous employer, and wrote about it on February 26.
Pfingsten, like me, was not provided answers to questions when sent to Lauf. She evaded him back in February.
More to the point, Lauf has had over 7 1/2 months to correct the entry in her LinkedIn and her 10 months of employment from Citizens for Rauner, and has not done so.
She removed her Heartland Global Resources, Inc. employment, but did not clarify her 2018 employment.
Pfingsten’s article can be viewed here and it includes a bad reference concerning her performance for Citizens for Rauner which included the quote of Lauf “didn’t have a clue”.