A self-described Democratic business expert running for Congress in Illinois has not reported earning income from his own consulting firm for the last three years, according to financial disclosure forms, leading one constituent to file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).
Democrat Brad Schneider is running against freshman Rep. Robert Dold (R) in Illinois’s Tenth Congressional District, which encompasses portions of Northern Chicago and the wealthy Democratic stronghold of Highland Park.
Schneider’s campaign literature has cast the Democrat as a businessman who, if elected, would "bring his business experience to Congress."
"Brad has worked with small businesses, helping them grow and succeed," states one print advertisement.
"I’m a business guy. I like using numbers to solve problems and help people," Schneider declares in another.
Schneider has pointed to his work with Cadence Consulting Group, LLC as a sign of his executive experience, citing the business on candidate questionnaire forms and elsewhere in interviews. He also lists the business as his primary occupation on informational materials pertaining to the race.
However, Schneider has not reported earning any income over the past three years from Cadence Consulting Group, according to the candidate’s financial disclosure forms.
The missing reported income has led some Illinois residents to wonder if the Democrat has something to hide.
One Republican activist from the district has filed a FEC complaint against Schneider to compel the Democrat to explain the omission.
"He’s been selling himself as a small business owner who consults and represents" multi-million dollar corporations, "yet from January 1st of 2010 to the present he’s reported zero income" from Cadence, said Lou Atsaves, a local GOP activist who petitioned the FEC in August to investigate whether Schneider violated disclosure laws.
FEC regulations require that a candidate disclose "income received during the current election cycle," including "salary and other earned income that the candidate earns from bona fide employment."
In financial disclosure forms filed in August 2012, Schneider discloses that he is the "Managing Member" of Cadence Consulting Group. But, under the portion of the form that asks for "Earned Income," Schneider altogether fails to list Cadence Consulting.
Schneider discloses $30,450 in income from the life insurance firm Davis Dann Adler Schneider, where he worked until 2003, according to the August forms.
Schneider made similar disclosures in his November 2011 filing, listing only the money he earned from Davis Dann Adler Schneider while failing to report any income from Cadence. As the forms include two years of data—both the current and preceding years—Schneider has disclosed no income from Cadence in 2010, 2011, or 2012 despite touting it as his primary job.
The Schneider campaign said that Atsaves’ misgivings are misplaced.
"For the better part of three decades, Brad has been involved in helping small and medium-sized businesses grow," said Schneider for Congress spokesperson Staci McCabe. "In 2008, Brad formed Cadence Consulting Group, a single member LLC, to provide consulting services on a selective basis, allowing Brad to spend the bulk of his time working to build Lead Out Capital Partners, a single member LLC focused on finding small, family-owned businesses to invest in or buy. As is typical in such endeavors, Brad did not draw a salary while pursuing investment opportunities.
"That’s just the nature of how business works," McCabe added. "It sometimes requires lead-time and active effort focusing on opportunities for growth. And although Brad has taken a hiatus from Cadence Consulting Group during the campaign, Brad continues to retain ownership of both entities."
Atsaves, though, argues in his complaint that "it is reasonable to believe Mr. Schneider received earned income from Cadence Consulting Group, LLC between" January 2010 and October 2011 "based on his own Congressional questionnaires which lists [Cadence] as his primary occupation."
"If he’s making money, then he’s being dishonest with his filing, and if he’s not, then he’s being dishonest with the constituents," Atsaves said.
The FEC could not confirm that it had received Atsaves’ complaint, according to a spokeswoman, who told the Free Beacon that the committee’s enforcement process is kept confidential and that pending matters are not discussed publicly.
If Schneider is still operating Cadence, as he has claimed at multiple points during the campaign, Atsaves maintained that it stands to reason he had earned an income from his work.
"He’s not making a dime off of it? Zero income?" Atsaves asked. "Something’s wrong here."
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) demanded that Schneider explain why he did not list income from Cadence.
"It is obvious that Brad Schneider isn’t being honest with Illinois families," Katie Prill, a NRCC spokesperson, told the Free Beacon. "Brad Schneider wants to say he is a successful businessman, but the documents he provided from his campaign to prove that show otherwise. Illinois families deserve to know what the truth is when it comes to Brad Schneider’s shady business background."