VERNON W. THOMSON was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin. He attended Carroll College in Waukesha for two years and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1927. He went on to the University of Wisconsin Law School and was admitted to the Wisconsin Bar in 1932. From 1933 to 1935 he was an enrolling officer for the Civilian Conservation Corps. He also served as Richland’s Assistant District Attorney in 1933 and City Attorney from 1933 to 1937 and again from 1942 to 1944. He was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly for eight consecutive terms from 1935 to 1949, serving as Speaker in 1939, 1941, and 1943 and as Republican floor leader in 1945, 1947, and 1949. He was elected Wisconsin Attorney General in 1950 and reelected in 1952 and 1954, winning the governorship in 1956. In exchange for receiving increased salaries and living expenses, state legislators agreed to Governor Thomson’s demand for enactment of what became one of the strictest lobbying laws in the country, designed to prevent lobbyists from covering significant portions of legislators’ personal expenses. During his term as governor, Thomson also approved legislation providing group life insurance for state employees and revising the public retirement system. He was defeated for reelection in 1958 by Gaylord Nelson, after which he practiced law for two years. In 1960 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Richland County, a seat that he held for seven terms. In 1975 he received an appointment to the Federal Election Commission.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
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