Jim Lawrence is running for Congress in District 2 in New Hampshire. He’s a Republican, going up against incumbent Democrat, Ann McLane Kuster. His pitch to voters relies heavily on his record as what he calls "a small business owner." But it’s hard to get much detail on what exactly that record entails.
Lawrence talks a lot about the consulting firm he started in 2003 called Lawrence Battelle.
“My small business started as a consulting firm that made recommendations to the department of defense for how they can reduce their government spending, how they can more efficiently buy and procure large weapon systems,” Lawrence told NHPR in an interview two weeks ago.
During a forum with NHPR's The Exchange on Monday, Lawrence described working side by side with the military and civilian government employees, and advising the Department of Defense on “long-term decisions” about major weapons systems.
“We were actually embedded with the DOD and advising them specifically on some of the decisions they were making for the sustainment tail, how they were going to maintain this fleet of thirty-three aircraft worldwide," Lawrence said.
But outside of Lawrence's campaign literature, NHPR could find little trace of this company.
Lawrence Battelle, Inc, does not show up in federal databases which include all contracts and subcontracts over $25,000 – from 2003, when the company was founded – through the present.
When asked why we could find no evidence of him doing business with the federal government, Lawrence responded that his company was too small to be reported.
Asked for documentation of his firm’s work, Lawrence replied, “I could send you evidence of it, but I probably wouldn’t.”
Follow-up emails from NHPR seeking details of Lawrence Battelle's work have gone unanswered.
Lawrence says he stepped down from the company in 2014, but says the business continues to operate under other leadership.
“When I ran for Congress two years ago I stepped away from the active management of that firm," he said. "That firm is still continuing to do some work.”
But according to the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s website, Lawrence Battelle, Inc. was dissolved by the state twice in the last four years, after failing to submit a required annual report.
The company has not been reinstated, and the candidate himself is the last registered agent. The only other agent listed in any company records is Jennifer Battelle, his current campaign staffer.
What we did find when researching Lawrence Battelle, Inc., is a lawsuit the company brought in 2012 against the federal government. In the suit, Jennifer Battelle - now, Lawrence’s campaign staffer, then, a business partner – claimed the Air Force unfairly eliminated the company from a bid for contracts. The company sought over $3.5 million in damages.
In an order dismissing the case, the judge described Lawrence Battelle Inc.’s lack of fitness for the job, rating the company’s past performance as “unknown.” The court dismissal stated “no performance record is identifiable or the offerer's performance record is so limited that no confidence assessment rating can be reasonably assigned.”
According to public records, Lawrence Battelle, Inc. was evicted from its Nashua office in 2013.
So, who is currently running Lawrence Battelle today, and what work, if any, is the company doing? When we asked Lawrence that question Monday, he said:
“You’d have to contact Lawrence Battelle for that information.”
The company has no website. NHPR’s emails to Jennifer Battelle have not been returned for two weeks.
NHPR's Brian Wallstin contributed to this report.
Click here to listen to Jim Lawrence on NHPR's Conversations with the Candidates Forum.