WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson has created a fundraising committee that will allow him to begin raising money for a possible presidential campaign, according to Tennessee officials.
Thompson filed papers Friday with the Tennessee Secretary of State creating “Friends of Fred Thompson,” a state-based corporation that will raise and spend money to gauge interest and support for a possible Thompson White House bid.
Under federal law, prospective candidates are allowed to raise and spend money to “test the waters” for a bid for federal office without having to create a federal campaign committee. However, once a candidate declares his or her candidacy, the candidate must then go back and report any money raised and spent during the “testing the waters” phase. These organizations have been called both “exploratory” and “testing the waters” committees.
The advantage to Thompson in creating a state committee is that it allows him to begin raising money for a possible presidential campaign, but exempts him from having to file a detailed campaign finance report for this quarter. All declared candidates with federal committees must report any money they’ve raised and spent through June 30 in reports due to the FEC on July 15. Assuming Thompson does not create a federal campaign committee until after June 30, any money raised and spent before then would not need to be reported until mid-October.
Thompson is not the first 2008 presidential candidate to first create a state-based exploratory committee before establishing a federal committee. Both GOP hopefuls Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul did so in their respective home states of New York and Texas before creating their federal campaign committees.