Found by John Lopez:
One of the conservative candidates running for the 2-year seat, Michael Thompson, is part of the Catalina Lauf slate, running under the McHenry County Citizens for Lower Taxes PAC, and Sunday afternoon, Thompson posted the following on Facebook:
“With election day drawing closer, I would like to address some of the issues currently being raised on social media regarding funding and special interests. Unlike many of the posts, I will also provide all of the information below this, so that you can do your own research.
“Catalina Lauf announced back in 2022 that she was starting a PAC to help local school board elections & counter the $800,000 Pritzker announced he was putting into 2023 school board races. She’s spoken publicly about it, noting these are leftover campaign funds from her previous run for Congress.
“(There are no strings attached to it — she does not hold a political office, so what strings could there be?) She has offered it to a variety of non-profit causes as she cannot just keep that money. Some have decried ‘outside money,’ but the only thing outside Illinois is her accountant, as he’s based in Wisconsin. This money was raised locally for support in McHenry County.
“Recognizing we needed money for signage and mailers to stand out with 12 candidates in this race, we reached out. The vast majority of it has been spent on postage, mailers, signage, and print materials. All of the spending is filed publicly with the PAC.
“Why we prepared so well: Did you know that the Democratic party was robotexting targeted voters in the area as far back as October of 2022 offering to fully fund -their- 2023 campaigns if they would consider running for the D158 school board?
“In fact, one of my Talamore [subdivision] neighbors, a registered Democrat, was the recipient of these calls and spoke with their organization a few times to see how much funding they were offering if she chose to run. They offered a sum conveniently under $5000 per candidate, so candidates accepting it would not have to report that they were taking it and could claim that they are ‘self funded.’
“Remember that whenever you hear someone saying they are ‘self-funded.’ You can also go to Pritzker’s Defend Our Schools website to see exactly which D158 candidates he’s supporting in this race. On Friday, a round of mailers also went out to our community from Pritzker’s organization that is supporting these candidates.
“Today’s Chicago Tribune has an article stating that Pritzker has given $300,000 to 84 school board candidates in 17 Illinois counties for this election.
“Doing the math is easy here – it works out to a little over $3500 per candidate, which those candidates will not need to declare. Again, two of the D158 challengers he’s backing are listed on Pritzker’s site.
“Had each of us taken money individually and kept it below $5000, we too would not have had to report. We -chose- to report everything in the interest of being fully transparent with voters.
“There is a deceptively-edited video going around from the recent HEA Candidate Forum that removes important background info that Andy Bittman, Laura Murray, Gina Galligar, and I spoke to regarding our funding, and I would encourage everyone to watch the full forum video to view the unedited portion.
“It’s very telling to me that people attacking the four of us are -only- focusing on OUR funding.
“They aren’t attacking the actual issues in the district that we’re shining light on — the overspending on agendas that do not support children’s education, overspending/overstaffing on admins, underpayment of our teachers, staff, and bus drivers, the 44% reading at grade level, 40% doing math at grade level.
“They know they cannot dispute any of these issues, because they’re true.
“So, instead, they attack the fact that we created a budget and sought out funding for it — and then also attack our choice to be transparent about what we’re spending and where the funding came from.
“It’s a strange tactic, indeed.
“Everything on our end has been legally disclosed with the PAC – we chose to make it transparent to you, and we addressed it during the HEA forum as well.
“I and the other Common Sense Candidates, Andy Bittman, Laura Murray, and Gina Galligar, are happy to discuss this and any other issues with you, our community, and our voters.
“In the comments below, I will provide images and links to some of the things I’ve cited in my writeup.
“I sincerely appreciate your support, and your vote, on April 4th.”
Thank you, Cal, for creating a separate article.
Some things from Mr. Thompson I have to point out for complete clarification, based on the facts:
“Catalina Lauf announced back in 2022 that she was starting a PAC to help local school board elections & counter the $800,000 Pritzker announced he was putting into 2023 school board races. She’s spoken publicly about it, noting these are leftover campaign funds from her previous run for Congress.”
My response: I do recall Catalina Lauf’s April 12, 2022, interview with Chrissi Bretz where she mentioned she would help local candidates, particularly in school board races. She said nothing about starting a PAC, since Lauf already had a federal PAC, her Defense of Freedom PAC (DOFPAC), and I took what she said in the Bretz interview as she would give to individual candidates from DOFPAC. She did so, from June of 2022 through December, and included an Aurora alderwoman facing a challenge for reelection next week.
Governor Pritzker’s announcement he’d give significant money for local elections didn’t take place until this year.
The leftover campaign funds from Lauf’s unsuccessful congressional race last year totaled just under $50K through December 31, based on her campaign’s late January FEC filing. Her DOFPAC had just under $150K in the bank at the end of 2022.
Next from Thompson:
“(There are no strings attached to it — she does not hold a political office, so what strings could there be?) She has offered it to a variety of non-profit causes as she cannot just keep that money. Some have decried ‘outside money,’ but the only thing outside Illinois is her accountant, as he’s based in Wisconsin. This money was raised locally for support in McHenry County.”
My response: There are always strings attached, including implied/inferred ones, when someone’s candidacies, including a slate, receives a significant amount of funding, in this case, to date, $15K from Lauf’s congressional campaign. To answer Thompson’s rhetorical question, the strings would be a commitment to openly back Lauf in a future political campaign, whether IL-11, or another elective office either in Illinois or outside the state, or something else, but these candidates are beholden to Lauf whether they admit it or not.
The “her accountant” reference is verification the McHenry County Citizens for Lower Taxes PAC (MCCFLT) is actually Lauf’s PAC, in spite her name not being anywhere on the PAC’s documentation. Lauf started her DOFPAC this way, without her name on documentation, but all knew it was her PAC. Maybe at first of year, Lauf planned to help other local candidates through her new local PAC, but once the Northwest Herald broke the story last month about MCCFLT, and given their website, the MCCFLT solely focused on D158, and its slate of 4 candidates.
“This money was raised locally for support in McHenry County.” No, the money from Lauf’s congressional campaign was raised last year from all over the country as her FEC filings prove. Had Lauf given money directly to MCCFLT from her own pocket, Thompson would be 100% right. Lauf gave other people’s money to fund her MCCFLT slate, just as she seeded DOFPAC in 2020.
As far as claims of “self-funding”, Thompson is right about the doctored video, and I did watch the entire D158 candidates forum from last week. The only other D158 candidate who’s reporting their campaign expenses through a political committee is former McHenry County Board Member Paula Yensen, and her only significant fundraising to date is a $3K loan from her husband.
As said elsewhere although Catalina Lauf is not on the ballot next week, she has skin in the game, and because it is now known MCCFLT is owned by her, through her accountant, how Lauf does in this fight through her candidate slate will determine if we see Lauf win a real fight resulting in her endorsed candidates winning election and taking the oath of office for the first time (her primary win last June, I grade as a pillow fight because she beat 5 terribly underfunded candidates, and still won with only 31% of the primary vote after spending over $1.4 million).
Therefore, this is how Lauf will be graded based on the performance of her MCCFLT slate:
If all 4 MCCFLT slate candidates win, “A” grade, or using fighting words, Lauf wins by knockout.
If only 3 of Lauf’s candidates win, “B” grade, or a “technical knockout” (TKO).
If only 2 of Lauf’s candidates win, “C” grade, or a “split decision”.
If only 1 of Lauf’s candidates wins, “D” grade, or Lauf got TKO’ed.
If 0 of Lauf’s MCCFLT candidates wins, “F” grade, and Lauf got knocked out, again.
Will watch D158 with interest next week, and whether Lauf runs for anything in 2024, either locally, in Congress or out-of-state, or does as I suggested after her 12.9 percentage points loss last November, and simply sit-out 2024, she’s in this race.
Will the D158 voters give Lauf an early birthday present and deliver a knockout win for Lauf? We’ll know next Tuesday night.
I nominate Cal and Lopez jointly for the Pulitzer Prize!
Eh… I don’t think the average voter is thinking about Lauf at all or see this as a referendum on her, John.
The lot was already cast.
The candidates already set themselves up ideologically the way they did before her getting involved.
She mostly helped them get more exposure. One set of candidates has been going on AM 560 and being promoted by Republican and conservative organizations, the other set has been getting help from the Dems, progressive organizations, and members of the teachers union.
People already understood where things were.
How many people would be on the fence if not for her involvement?
I’m not sure it’s many people at all.
What’s remarkable about her involvement isn’t that her seal of approval will make a big difference, but rather that she gave her seal of approval despite it probably not making a big difference and in a race that is way below the level of office that she sought.
I view it as a courageous act by her because it’s a high risk / low reward situation.
She would be criticized by some folks for losing far more than she would be praised for winning.
This includes the media but also highly partisan individuals.
Democrats would rub it in her face if she lost far more than Republicans would thank her if she won.
Correcting, you are correct concerning the “average voter”, who is not the average reader of McHenry County Blog. True local politicos, including most men and women who serve as precinct committeepersons, as well as candidates or their most motivated supporters, read this blog, particularly right before an election.
In many ways, Lauf choosing the D158 battle, is a stroke of genius. Whether by design or serendipity, Lauf has a “Common Sense Candidates” slate whom she’s chosen to invest $15K from her congressional campaign into her McHenry County Citizens for Lower Taxes PAC (MCCFLT). The Fearsome Foursome (yes, my name for the Lauf slate, though only 1 of the guys evenly remotely resembles the fabled L.A. Rams mid 1960s player-legends of Merlin Olsen, Lamar Lundy, Deacon Jones and Rosey Grier) are a complete D158 slate, opposed to the slate the Illinois Democrats fielded, which is only 2 candidates, former McHenry County Board Member Paula Yensen for a 4-year seat, and Mr. Fekete for the 2-year seat.
Put another way, the Lauf MCCFLT slate has everything working in its favor: money, self-funded opponents and the opposition (Democrats, teachers unions, D158 incumbents) appear to be in disarray. The 4 D158 incumbents seeking reelection next week (includes 1 appointed incumbent), are not backed by either MCCFLT or the Democrats. Only two of the incumbents were endorsed by the Daily Herald for reelection.
So if there is a high profile fight where Lauf’s candidates can win, it’s D158.
HUGE opportunity for Lauf, as well as the Fearsome Foursome candidates in Michael Thompson (2-year), plus Laura Murray, Andy Bittman and Gina Galligar for 4-year terms.
If Lauf scores a knockout win on Tuesday, meaning a clean-sweep by her slate, Lauf’s opportunities will expand locally, be it locally or anywhere else, because now she’ll have a real, bonafide win — flipping an entire school board.
It’ll be interesting to watch, given there are Republican precinct committeepersons, both here on the blog, and on the street, who openly wonder where McHenry County Republican Party Chair Jeff Thorsen is, as he’s considered completely silent/absent in local elections.
As I’ve said in many places, including on McHenry County Blog, when Lauf does something wrong, which is often, she’ll get called out.
When she does something right, which is very few and far between, she’ll get praise, including from me.
She took a $15K risk, plus setting up a PAC, now we’ll see if she’ll reap a reward on Tuesday if the MCCFLT candidate slate wins.
Now, if Lauf is knocked out, and none of her slate are wins next week, Lauf will be judged, too.
Anywhere in between will be limited, although I believe even if Lauf’s slate wins a split decision, that will be equivalent to the Barrington D220 Suburban ACTION PAC slate scoring a split decision two years ago, winning two of four seats on the D220 school board in 2021.
We’ll know Tuesday night.