In Divisive GOP Primary, Tommy Thompson and Eric Hovde Have an Appetite for Destruction: Who's the D.C. Insider? (They Both Are)

Jul 30, 2012

Multimillionaire Washington D.C. insiders Eric Hovde and Tommy Thompson spent a radio debate yesterday attacking each other over being beltway insiders who will put Washington ahead of Wisconsin.

The debate, another step on the GOP road to self-destruction, became so negative at one point that a third candidate, former Congressman Mark Neumann, called on Hovde to apologize to Thompson for his insulting tone. [1]

At the heart of the attacks were Hovde’s recent move to Wisconsin, after some three decades in Washington as a hedge fund predator; and the millions that Thompson, a cabinet secretary in the Bush administration, made lobbying for big oil, Wall Street and drug companies.

“When Secretary Thompson and hedge fund millionaire Eric Hovde argue over who is a D.C. insider who will put Washington ahead of Wisconsin, they’re both right,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Tuesday. “Instead of talking about job growth and the economic security of the middle class, the Republican primary has become a trough of insults, low road mudslinging and negative attack ads. These are values Secretary Thompson and Hovde have brought from Washington D.C. Wisconsin deserves better.”

[1] – U.S. Senate Republican Candidate Debate (The Jerry Bader Show, WTAQ, July 30, 2012)


Hovde Said Thompson’s Career As A “Corporate Lobbyist” And His Gubernatorial Record Make Him Unelectable. In a radio interview in July 2012, Hovde said: “So it’s a threat to Tommy, because his whole campaign is ‘I’m the guy who can win,’ and the reality is, no.  He’s going to have issues in the general election, some pretty significant issues because people are going to dig in to what he’s been doing as a corporate lobbyist for the last 5 or 6 years and there’s real questions finally being brought out about his last couple terms as governor.” [Jerry Bader interview, 7/12/2012]

Hovde Criticized Thompson For Being A Career Politician And A “Corporate Lobbyist.” At a press availability in July 2012, Hovde said: “Governor Thompson has spent his life in politics, he was first elected in 1966 and has been in politics his whole life. The last five years he’s been a corporate lobbyist.” [Sturgeon Bay press availability, 7/13/2012]

Hovde Accused Thompson Of Being A Lobbyist, Saying “I Have Yet To Meet Many Lobbyists That Really Understand The Issues That Are Driving The Business Community.” In a meeting with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board in July 2012, Hovde said: “And at the same time, Tommy is of counsel to Akin Gump and he’s a lobbyist.  And I have yet to meet many lobbyists that really understand the issues that are driving the business community.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board, 7/18/2012]

Hovde Pointed To Thompson’s Years As On Corporate Boards As An Issue That Could Come Up In The General Election. In an interview with radio host Mark Belling, Eric Hovde asked, “But what has Tommy been doing for the last 7 years? That stuff is going to come up, all the 22 different corporate boards and all of his issues. And obviously Mark, and taking Green energy subsidies and all those things. It’s interesting that everybody is going through this hard vetting of me, which is fine.” [WISN radio – Mark Belling show, 7/25/2012]


Thompson Campaign Spokesperson: “Hovde Wants To Hide That He’s Spent The Last 24 Years In Washington.” On July 19, 2012, Thompson campaign spokesman Brian Nemoir issued a statement attacking Eric Hovde as a Washington, DC insider. “There’s a simple reason Eric Hovde doesn’t want to talk about the past. While Tommy Thompson was creating jobs and cutting taxes, Eric Hovde was cutting deals in Washington to profit from taxpayer bailouts,” said Nemoir. “Hovde wants to hide that he’s spent the last 24 years in Washington trading on his cozy government relationships to make a quick buck off of the American taxpayer.” [Thompson Campaign Press Release, 7/19/2019]

Thompson TV Ad Accuses Hovde Of Playing “The Washington Game.” On July 21, 2012, Tommy Thompson’s Senate campaign unveiled an ad attacking Eric Hovde. In the ad, a male voiceover says, “The Washington game – Eric Hovde’s been playing it for twenty-four years. Hovde ran a hedge fund that used ‘Uncle Sam’ to buy banks. He traded on government contacts to profit from taxpayer bailouts. Hovde gamed the system and bet against American companies and homeowners. After financial markets collapsed and families lost their life savings. Hovde bragged that he made a forty percent profit. Eric Hovde: He wins – taxpayers lose.” [Thompson press release, 7/21/12]

Thompson Campaign: “Hovde Has Spent The Past 24 Years Trading On His Contacts To Profit From Taxpayer Bailouts And Programs.” In a July 2012 press release, Thompson campaign spokesman Brian Nemoir said, “Hovde’s unfounded attacks on Thompson are an attempt to mislead voters about the former governor’s record while distracting from the fact Hovde has spent the past 24 years trading on his contacts to profit from taxpayer bailouts and programs.” [Thompson press release, 7/21/12]

Thompson Campaign: Hovde A “Bailout Predator.” In a July 2012 press release, Thompson campaign spokesman Brian Nemoir said, “Despite Hovde’s arrogance, the voters of Wisconsin understand that he’s spent the past 24 years in Washington as a bailout predator seeking to make money from the American taxpayer.” [Thompson press release, 7/21/12]

Thompson Campaign: “Hovde Boasts His Firm Was Built On ‘Government-Assisted Transactions.’” In a July 2012 press release, Thompson campaign spokesman Brian Nemoir said, “Hovde boasts his firm was built on ‘government-assisted transactions.’” They provided the following quote for evidence: “Hovde financial built its foundation in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s on government-assisted transactions,” from Hovde Industry Update, Nov. 2008 Vol XXI I Issue III. [Thompson press release, 7/21/12]

Thompson Campaign: Hovde Called Bailouts An “Opportunistic Environment.” In a July 2012 press release, Thompson campaign spokesman Brian Nemoir said, “At the height of the recent government-funded bailouts, Hovde published a guide labeled, ‘Let Uncle Sam Pay For Your Acquisition.’ The Hovde Industry Update concludes by encouraging investors to contact Hovde at his Washington, DC office to ‘take advantage’ of this ‘opportunistic environment.’” [Thompson press release, 7/21/12]

The Thompson Campaign Said A Fund Of Hovde’s Shorted Companies Over-Exposed To Residential Construction Lending. In a July 2012 press release, Thompson campaign spokesman Brian Nemoir said, “MarketWatch, Jan, 9, 2009 reported, ‘The Financial Institutions Partners funds, run by Eric Hovde of Hovde Capital Advisors, gained more than 40% last year, partly by shorting companies over-exposed to residential construction lending and other frothy real estate markets.’” [Thompson press release, 7/21/12]

Thompson Campaign: Hovde confirmed “His Profits Were Based On The Decline In The Housing Market.” In a July 2012 press release, Thompson campaign spokesman Brian Nemoir said, “Hovde confirmed in the Washington Post that his profits were based on the decline in the housing industry,” quoting an April 2008 Washington Post article where Hovde said, “However, most of our returns have been generated by being short a variety of different financial stocks, particularly those that are substantially levered to housing.” [Thompson press release, 7/21/12]

Thompson Campaign: “Hovde Touts The Government Regulatory Background Of At Least 3 Of His Lead Team.” In a July 2012 press release, Thompson campaign spokesman Brian Nemoir said, “Hovde has been headquartered in Washington DC (as opposed to a financial center like New York, Boston, San Francisco or Chicago) since its founding. Its current headquarters is just over a block from the K-Street lobbying corridor. Hovde touts the government regulatory background of at least 3 of his lead team.” [Thompson press release, 7/21/12]