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Thompson the Lobbyist | The Nation

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The Notion

Unfiltered takes on politics, ideas and culture from Nation editors and contributors.

Thompson the Lobbyist

David Sirota has a good post up about how the media is overlooking Fred Thompson's lucrative stint as a lobbyist. In a profile of the possible presidential candidate yesterday, the New York Times mentioned that during the eighteen year gap between working as a Congressional staffer and winning a Senate seat in 1994, Thompson "took on some lobbying clients." Who those clients were and what the work entailed, goes unmentioned. It's a mere throwaway in the larger narrative of the Reagan Republican returning to save the GOP.

In case you were curious, Thompson represented Westinghouse and General Electric in the deregulation of the savings and loan industry, which eventually led to the S&L crisis of the 1980s. After leaving the Senate in 2002, he was paid $760,000 to protect the British reinsurance company Equitas from asbestos claims. He registered to represent foreign clients such as deposed Haitian leader Jean Baptiste Aristide, Toyota and a German mining company.

Thompson's all-but-announced campaign has downplayed this history. "It being so far back, that's an awful undue pressure, burden for the senator to have to go dragging back through records," spokesman Mark Corallo (who recently worked for Karl Rove) told the Politico when asked to provide more information on Thompson's lobbying days. It may behoove his campaign to dust off those records. In 1994, Thompson's Democratic opponent, Congressman Jim Cooper, called him "a Gucci-wearing, Lincoln-driving, Perrier-drinking, Grey Poupon-spreading millionaire Washington special interest lobbyist." It's not hard to imagine a Republican rival saying nearly the same thing.

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