Reality Check: Thompson ad portrays Hovde as Wis. outsider

Eric Hovde has lived in Washington for past 24 years
Reality Check: Thompson ad portrays Hovde as Wis. outsider

Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson has tried to define himself as “pure Wisconsin.”

In his latest ad in the U.S. Senate race, he’s trying to define his opponent Eric Hovde as a conniving outsider.

“Just who is Eric Hovde? Eric Hovde spent 24 years in Washington profiting from big government spending on taxpayer-funded bailouts and wasteful government subsidies,” the announcer in the ad says.

WISC-TV found this needs clarification. It’s true that Hovde has lived in Washington, D.C., for the past 24 years, but his involvement in bailouts and subsidies is complicated.

Hovde’s financial company owned banks and invested in others. Hovde said none of the banks his company owns outright took bank bailout money, but 33 of the banks his company was invested in took some 29 billion in TARP funds.

Hovde’s realty company is the one involved in subsidies. A piece of property the firm owns had been producing tobacco, and records showed the company collected nearly $8,000 under a program to help tobacco farmers. Hovde said the farm no longer produces tobacco and that his brother, who co-owns the company, applied for the subsidies.

“Hovde refused to pay his property taxes until he was taken to court,” the announcer says in the ad.

WISC-TV found this also needs clarification. Hovde didn’t fail to pay his regular homeowner’s property tax bill. His realty company classified property it owned, part of what is now the Door Creek neighborhood development, as agricultural to get a lower tax assessment, and sold it for development a short time later.


The city of Madison moved to collect a penalty, saying it never intended agricultural use. Hovde didn’t pay it, and the city sued to collect the tax difference from the prior two years. Hovde Real Estate first fought the lawsuit, but ultimately settled and paid the city $22,500 in 2006.

Mark Neumann and Jeff Fitzgerald are the other two Republicans in the U.S. Senate race. The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Tammy Baldwin.

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