Washington Special Interests Stand Up For Thompson

Instead of campaigning with the Romney-Ryan ticket in DePere today, Washington DC insider Tommy Thompson will hold a campaign “kick off” at an elite lobbying shop in Washington tonight.

Thompson, who has cashed in making millions working for Washington DC lobbyists and now has a net worth of over $13 million dollars, will "kick off” his general election campaign at Washington’s most elite lobbying firm, Barbour, Griffith, Rogers, with over 33 Washington D.C. lobbyists that work for special interests, including - Koch Industries, drug companies, insurance companies, and many of the same special interests Thompson has cashed in with.

Thompson’s cozy relationship with special interest lobbyists has gotten him in trouble before.

In 2007, the Associated Press reported that, “A new report is resurrecting old questions about the handling of Wisconsin gambling projects by presidential candidate Tommy Thompson and his former aides,” namely lobbyist Bill McCoshen, a close confidant of Thompson.

According to the AP, McCoshen signed a “secret agreement” with investors in an Indian gaming casino in Kenosha. The deal, initially signed in 1997 and revised in 2000, called for McCoshen to cash in on his relationship with Thompson as a former campaign manager, Chief of Staff and Commerce Secretary and receive $46.5 million for winning Thompson’s approval of the project.

During Thompson’s failed run for President, David Redlawsk, associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa, told the AP the report could hurt Thompson with religious conservatives, many of whom strongly oppose gambling.

In addition, Thompson has a record of being fined for violating lobbying laws, accepting illegal campaign contributions and refusing to return the illegal donations.

Thompson fined for violating lobby law.  In 1987 a circuit court fined Thompson and two top aides for violating the state's lobbyist law.  Thompson and his aides accepted free meals and beverages from a lobbying organization. [Wisconsin State Journal, 7/17/87]

Thompson admitted, and then denied lobby law violations.  While criticizing the current lobby law, Thompson admitted he was "quite sure" he violated the law as a legislator.  Thompson declined to provide specifics of his lobby law violations, but described a typical example, saying, "If two or three or a half dozen of you are having a sandwich and you each have a bottle of beer and one person picks up the tab, that person might have been a lobbyist .... That's happened lots of times."  Thompson's remarks sparked an investigation into whether Thompson had violated the lobby law within the previous three years, and Thompson later claimed the newspaper misrepresented his remarks.  After reviewing two tapes of the interview, the newspaper's managing editor concluded the story quoted Thompson accurately. [Wisconsin State Journal, 12/12/88;12/14/88; 12/15/88]

Thompson accepted $44,000 in illegal campaign funds.  In 1992, Thompson's campaign fund accepted $44,780 in illegal campaign contributions from organizations that hire paid lobbyists.  Groups that hire lobbyists may only donate after June 1 of an election year, and Thompson was not up for reelection until 1994.  After a newspaper showed the governor's spokesman evidence of the donations, the spokesman promised the governor would return the money. [Milwaukee Sentinel, 10/28/93]

Thompson refused to return illegal donations.  Thompson declined to return campaign contributions from insurance company executives who made the donations at a Blue Cross-organized fundraiser attended by his state Insurance Commissioner.  It is against the law for a Wisconsin insurance commissioner to directly or indirectly solicit campaign donations. [Wisconsin State Journal, 1/14/94]

Barbour and his lobbying firm have accepted millions of dollars from a diverse range of clients such as big tobacco, the health care industry, and energy companies.

The Government of Mexico Hired Barbour’s Firm to Work on NAFTA Implementation. According to documents filed in 2001 with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Haley Barbour’s firm was contracted by the Embassy of Mexico. The documents indicate that the “political activities that Barbour Griffith & Rogers Inc. (Registrant) will engage in on behalf of the Government of Mexico (Foreign Principal) include seeking continued implementation of the NAFTA trade agreement.” The release goes on to describe Haley Barbour’s critical role on the Barbour Griffith and Rogers team. The firm’s fee for their service was $35,000 a month – for at least three months. [DOJ Registration Statement, filed 10/02/01 ]

BGR Group Earned $3.21 Million In Lobbying Fees For Health Care Interest In 2011 Alone. According to data from Lobbying Disclosure Act records available through opensecrets.org, the firm BGR Group earned $3.21 million in lobbying fees in 2011 from the following industries (as categorized by Open Secrets): Health Services- $800,000; Hospitals/Nurs Homes- $1.06 million; Insurance- $150,000; Misc Health-$220,000; Pharm/Health Prod- $980,000. [Open Secrets Lobbying Profile: BGR Group, Summary for year 2011]