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Why, of all days, did former Sen. Fred Thompson choose to announce for the presidency at the stroke of midnight today, on September 6? The real reason may actually have less to do with the timing of a debate than it does with obscure campaign finance rules.

The Federal Election Commission requires candidates to file a Statement of Candidacy form 15 days after a candidate declares, provided he raises or spends more than $5,000 on his campaign. After that filing, the candidate has ten days to file a Statement of Organization, establishing his campaign committee. Authorized candidate committees are then required to file regular quarterly (or monthly) financial reports.

Because Thompson announced today, a friendly FEC bureaucrat confirms for NRO, he won't have to file a statement of candidacy until 11:59 P.M. on October 1. If his committee comes into existence on that date, then he can avoid filing financial disclosure forms for the third quarter of the year, which all the other candidates will have to fill out. In that case, no one will get a look at the campaign's finances until January. It may just be that simple today's announcement, made at the stroke of midnight, means less paperwork and no one has a chance to pore over Thompson's donors and campaign spending until mid-January, after the first primary has already taken place.

National Review