Inside Thompson

Mar 15, 2010

Inside Thompson’s Room: Bill McCoshen

Lobbyists have friend in Former Bush Secretary

MADISON – Last week, Republican “Uber-Lobbyist” Bill McCoshen went on Mike Gousha’s “UpFront” TV program and all but announced that former Bush administration Secretary Tommy Thompson is running for U.S. Senate, saying “this is the most serious I’ve seen him.” McCoshen also said Thompson has the right people in the room,” and “I’d want the people around me that he’s got around him right now.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported that as a lobbyist, “McCoshen has represented many controversial firms, including liquor interests, the auto title loan industry, a video lottery firm and Wal-Mart.” McCoshen currently lobbies for health insurance and pharmaceutical company interests and the pay day loan industry, among others.

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 McCoshen.

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 would could hurt Thompson with religious conservatives, many of whom strongly oppose gambling.

Last weekend, McCoshen said Thompson was planning to set up an exploratory committee by the end of the month and that he expects Thompson to announce his candidacy at the Republican convention in May. An exploratory committee would allow Thompson to raise money from many of the corporate interests he represents. Politico has reported that Thompson has already collected over $200,000 in pledges from donors.

Thompson has said he going through “a process” where he is talking to his corporate clients. Thompson has spent the last five years as Washington DC insider who has made millions of dollars working on behalf of special interests – including health insurance and pharmaceutical companies and the finance industry. Thompson recently told the media on camera he doesn’t know how many corporate interests he works for.  He has refused to release his current list of clients.

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