Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) announced Monday that he has filed papers necessary for his candidacy for the Wisconsin Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) in 2012. However, Thompson stopped short of making an official campaign announcement.
A campaign spokesman told Raw Story that an announcement of candidacy could be expected “in the near future.”
“I’ve filed my corporation documents today, which allows me now to build my organization, raise money so I can go out there and tell the story,” Thompson said on WTMJ radio this morning.
“An announcement will be coming very soon…we’re doing it in steps because that’s what the federal law requires.”
The Federal Election Commission, the Secretary of the Senate and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board all said that Thompson’s campaign has not filed any campaign paperwork with them.
Thompson’s campaign confirmed to Raw Story that the “corporation documents” Thompson referred to are actually articles of incorporation, which shield the leaders of the campaign committee from liability by turning the group into a corporation.
“We registered with IRS and the Department of Financial Institutions here in Wisconsin so he can begin raising money in earnest and building a strong statewide campaign,” Darrin Schmitz, a spokesman for the campaign, said.
Paul Ryan, the FEC program director at the Campaign Legal Center, said that incorporation of committees is the new norm.
“I suspect it’s done to shield the people who set up the committee for personal liability from the actions of the committee,” Ryan said. “In reality when you are the lawyer running a big political committee, a lot of the laws that you’re dealing with have nothing to do with campaign finance, they have to do with office rentals or food. With any group of people that plans to spend millions of dollars on something, they typically incorporate.”
Currently, Thompson’s campaign is in what the FEC calls the “testing the waters” phase. Before he sends a statement of candidacy with the secretary of the Senate, which marks the official beginning of his candidacy, Thompson and his committee are still bound by the same contribution limits and rules as declared candidates. However, they are not yet required to disclose their spending. Before he declares candidacy, Thompson can raise or spend no more than $5,000. Then, he must file a backtrack disclosure statement about his exploratory spending.
Last month, Thompson named Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, whose father was an aide to Thompson, and former aide Jim Klauser as the co-chairmen of his campaign.
In addition to his tenure as governor, Thompson also served as the secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. He attempted a run for the presidency in 2008, but dropped out after poor performance in early straw polls.
Several Republicans have thrown their hat into the primary ring for the Senate seat, as has Democrat Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who represents Madison.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.