Monday, October 8, 2012

Three houses, four houses, what's the difference?

Tommy Thompson, former four-term governor of Wisconsin and Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, has done pretty well for himself since he left government.  So well, in fact, that when he was asked how many houses he owns, he miscounted.  Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has the story.

Governor (Secretary?) Thompson was asked at a campaign event how many houses he owns.  Mr. Bice reports that Governor Thompson promptly answered "Three."  The problem is that, as the Thompson campaign later clarified, the actual number of houses Governor Thompson owns is four.  There is the family farm in Elroy, Wisconsin.  Mr. Bice points out that Governor Thompson said at a recent debate that he runs the "family farm."  However, the website Uppity Wisconsin suggests that Governor Thompson has a tangential relationship with the truth when he suggests to people that he is a farmer.  Strangely, the corporate headquarters for the Thompson farm are in residential neighborhood on Milwaukee's east side.  Coincidentally I lived a block away from there for part of the time I lived in Milwaukee. 

In addition to the family farm,  Governor Thompson also owns a house in Madison.  Turns out he does not own the Wisconsin Governor's mansion.  It just felt that way when he was being repeatedly re-elected governor.  However, given his many years in the Wisconsin State Assembly, I guess it is no surprise that Governor Thompson bought a house in Madison. 

In addition, Governor Thompson's family trust bought a 10,889-square-foot-home in Kissimmee, Florida on the outskirts of Walt Disney World Resort.  I have never owned a 10,000-square-foot home so I cannot say for sure, but I bet it would be hard to forget owning one.  In support of my bet, I'll point to the fact that Governor Thompson did not forget owning the Florida home.  The home he forgot was a (presumably much smaller) condo near Lake Wisconsin.  Mr. Bice tells readers that the assessed value of the condo is over $1.3 million. 

Mr. Bice also points out that while he was Secretary of Health and Human Services, Governor Thompson bought and sold nine townhomes in the Alexandria, Virginia area.  However, this appears to have been property flipping rather than an attempt to reach double-digit home ownership.

I am no pundit, but forgetting how many homes one owns does not seem like a good way to relate to voters.  Especially those voters that can count the number of homes they own on one finger.  Things do not seem to be going very well for Governor Thompson, he is trailing his democratic opponent in the polls.  I am sure the idea of losing a statewide race for the first time is galling.  That may explain why Governor Thompson decided to blame his poor numbers on Mitt Romney.  I hope Governor Thompson can find some solace in the fact that he can still do more push-ups than most people.

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