Philly congressional candidate fails to file campaign finance report

Congressional candidate Michele Lawrence speaks to supporters at her campaign headquarters. (Dave Davies/WHYY)

Congressional candidate Michele Lawrence speaks to supporters at her campaign headquarters. (Dave Davies/WHYY)

When Philadelphia congressional candidate Michele Lawrence talks about being ready to make a difference in Washington, she notes that she’s spent 28 years in banking.

“I have a background in finance,” she said in a recent interview. “I’ve managed a $5 billion business.”

Lawrence retired from Wells Fargo last year.

It’s puzzling, then, that Lawrence is the only one of 25 Democratic candidates in congressional primaries in the region this spring who failed to file a required campaign finance report detailing her campaign’s contributions and spending.

Campaign spokesman Dan Gross acknowledged that Lawrence had failed to file, but was unable to offer an explanation. “We will file a campaign finance report before the election,” he said.

Reports were due April 15, and the Federal Election Commission typically levies fines on campaigns that file late or not at all.

Uphill battle

Lawrence is the only Democrat challenging U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle in the 2nd Congressional District, which consists of the eastern half of Philadelphia.

Boyle previously represented the 13th Congressional district, which included parts of Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court redrew all the state’s congressional boundaries after finding the previous districts unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and Boyle lives in the new 2nd District.

Boyle’s campaign finance report shows he had $869,636 on hand as of March 31.

Besides her work in banking, Lawrence has been involved in community service roles for years. She founded a nonprofit in 2011 called Saving Our Boys Leadership Development Institute aimed at helping disadvantaged kids overcome obstacles in their lives and develop leadership skills.

She also serves on the board of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and is a minster at the Dare to Imagine Church in East Mt. Airy.

In her campaign, she’s focused on issues of education, economic justice, and curbing gun violence.

“I come from a financial background, and it’s a shame when you need more paperwork to get a loan than you need to get a gun,” she told supporters at a news conference earlier this week. “Those are things we have to put an end to.”

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