The Campaign Spot

Times’ Story on Fred Thompson’s Sons Mostly a Dud

The New York Times’ big piece on the lobbying careers of Fred Thompson’s sons turns out to be… eh.

Those of us who don’t have relatives in public office will furrow our brows a bit at how quickly and easily the Thompson sons moved into the world of lobbying once their dad was elected to the Senate. But I kept waiting for the “smoking gun” paragraph, the one that would demonstrate this article was based on something more than the public’s inherent distaste and distrust of those whose profession is compensated efforts to persuade public officials… and I’m still waiting. And these paragraphs seem to clear the Thompsons of any serious wrongdoing:

Tony Thompson said he lobbied mainly in Nashville and registered for only one Washington client, Lockheed Martin. He said he never lobbied the Senate or discussed clients with his father.
Daniel Thompson was registered as a lobbyist only at the state level, where he worked as executive director of a statewide business group, the Tennessee Business Roundtable. He was later also a paid consultant to his father’s political action committee. Daniel, too, declined to comment.

We’re left with a quote by an NYU professor saying that a lawmaker’s family members becoming lobbyists “creates the appearance that his family is exploiting his stature and position.”
Well, yeah. But I don’t remember New York Times front-page stories about Linda Daschle lobbying for the airlines.
Basically, the article amounts to a complaint about nepotism, in a race featuring a President’s wife (Hillary), an admiral’s son (McCain), a governor’s son (Romney), at least one son of a senator (Dodd) and maybe another (Gore). All of this to succeed the son of a President. We can lament how having well-connected parents can help someone get started in a competitve business, but that train left the station a long time ago.

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