To: Interested Parties
From: Matt Thornton, Senior Communications Adviser, American Bridge 21st Century
RE: The record Tommy Thompson wants you to forget
Perhaps in a bout of nostalgia, Wisconsin Republicans have nominated former governor Tommy Thompson as their party’s Senate nominee. But much like seeing Brett Favre in Vikings purple, Wisconsin voters are in for the rude surprise that Thompson is no longer on their side.
Thompson left the Badger State behind when he was tapped to serve in George W. Bush’s cabinet. Less clear is when he abandoned Wisconsin values to become the worst embodiment of Washington’s revolving-door. After leaving the Bush administration, Thompson cashed in on his public service experience, amassing over $13 million with help from his ties to the numerous companies for which he served on their boards or did “consulting.” His client list included more than a dozen pharmaceutical or health care companies which he had previously been entrusted to regulate.
Moderate voters will also be disappointed to learn of Thompson’s far-right shift on health care during the primary to appeal to the Tea Party. Once a supporter of health care reform to ease the burden on struggling families, Thompson embraced radical Tea Party rhetoric to criticize the reform he earlier backed. Calling for health care reform to “be sent to the ash heap of history” is a far cry from the praise he showered on the bill he once called an “important step” – and one that made him a rich man.
Tommy Thompson may be a familiar name for Wisconsin voters, but they’ll soon realize he’s not the same candidate they thought they knew.
Thompson Amassed Wealth After Leaving Public Office
Thompson “Joined The Private Sector With A Vengeance” After Leaving Bush Cabinet, Acknowledged Ties To Roughly 50 Businesses. In February 2011, columnist Doug Moe wrote, “Thompson seemed in a very good place Saturday, and not just because he enjoys the Esquire Club. He is busier than ever, having joined the private sector with a vengeance after leaving President George W. Bush’s administration – where he was Secretary of Health and Human Services – in 2005. Thompson said he is connected with some 50 businesses in varying capacities – owner; part-owner; board member; attorney; or consultant. One can get exhausted just listening to a description of a week in Thompson’s life.” [Wisconsin State Journal, 2/27/11]
Thompson Was Worth At Least $13 Million As Of 2012, Earned $5 Million Since January 2010. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “Thompson reports at least $13 million in assets, and more than $5 million in income since the beginning of 2010, according to an advance copy of the report that he provided to the Journal Sentinel. Thompson said in an interview Thursday that he has a net worth of roughly $13 million, the lion’s share of it amassed since he left his cabinet post as health and human services secretary in January 2005 and began a private-sector career as corporate consultant, executive, investor and speaker with a heavy focus on health care.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,1/26/12]
Thompson Worked For Companies He Formerly Regulated. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Thompson has kept close ties to the pharmaceutical and health care fields – industries he oversaw as a cabinet member. More than a dozen companies that he worked for have ties to those industries. His client list at Akin Gump includes PhRMA, the trade/lobbying group that represents the nation’s largest drug makers; Novavax, a maker of vaccines; and Pharm Athene, which makes medical products to counter chemical weapons.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/26/12]
Thompson “Declined To Elaborate” On Plans To Sever Business Relationships During Campaign. Thompson, who has a host of consulting and other business relationships, told reporters he would sever or suspend some of those financial ties as he ran for Senate, but he declined to elaborate. Thompson hasn’t had to disclose his financial interests yet in federal candidate filings. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/17/11]
Thompson Was Unable To Name The Number Of Companies He Worked With. In a 2010 appearance, Thompson was unable to name the number of companies he was directly involved with. Asked, “How many boards and companies are you actually on, involved with? Dozens?” Thompson replied, “See, that’s sort of a hard thing for me to say, because a lot of them I do it through the law firm. So, you know. I may be on a board or advisory committee that is actually a law client of the firm. That’s how I do it, so… there’s more than a dozen.” [YouTube, 3/1/10]
Thompson Abandoned His Previous Support for Health Care Reform
Thompson Issued Joint Statement With Dick Gephardt Declaring “Failure To Reach An Agreement” On Health Care Bill Was “Not An Acceptable Option.” “The bill that the Senate Finance Committee will vote out for consideration by the full Senate this week is another important step toward achieving the goal of health care reform this year. It moves us down the path of providing affordable high-quality health care for all and expanding coverage for millions. Failure to reach an agreement on health reform this year is not an acceptable option. Inaction will only increase the burden of rapidly rising health care costs and care denied for millions of American families. Inaction will increase the crushing burden of rising health costs on American businesses that are struggling to create jobs and lead America’s economic recovery. It is time for action.” [Tommy Thompson and Dick Gephardt Joint Statement, Reprinted in Politico, 10/5/09]
Thompson “Showered Praise” On Finance Committee Version Of Affordable Care Act In Joint Statement With Dick Gephardt. “Potentially more damaging are Thompson’s comments in October, when he became one of only a handful of prominent Republicans to shower praise on the Democratic health care bill produced by the Senate. The former Bush administration official even went so far as to issue a joint statement with former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt praising the Senate Finance Committee’s legislation as ‘another important step toward achieving the goal of health care reform this year,’ adding that ‘failure to reach an agreement on health reform this year is not an acceptable option.’” [Politico, 3/1/10]
Thompson Praised Senate Finance Committee Version Of Health Care Bill As “Important Step,” Supported Individual Mandate And Suggested Repeal Of Affordable Care Act Was Unrealistic. “Thompson argued that, despite making a joint statement with House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt praising the Senate version of health care legislation at the time as ‘another important step’- a statement that conservatives haven’t forgotten – he nevertheless had made 150 speeches detailing his opposition to the law. Yet the Gephardt statement isn’t the only hurdle confronting Thompson. The former HHS secretary will also be forced to field questions about his prior support for the individual mandate and his suggestion that Republicans were wasting their time trying to repeal Obama’s biggest domestic achievement.” [Politico, 5/26/11]
Thompson Said The Health Care Reform Law “Must Be Sent To The Ash Heap Of History.” WisPolitics posted an article written by Tommy Thompson in which the former governor claimed, “Whether the Supreme Court or an act of Congress leads to the demise of Obamacare – it must be sent to the ash heap of history. America has the greatest health care system in the world and it must be preserved and improved upon. Not destroyed.” [WisPolitics, 11/22/11]
Interview: Thompson Called Affordable Care Act “A Failure That Needs To Be Changed.” In an interview with the Denver Business Journal, Thompson said: “I’ll tell them, number one, health care has got to be reformed because it is costing our economy positioning in comparing America versus the world. Number two, the Obama plan was a great opportunity, but I consider it a failure that needs to be changed. Number three, we need to make health care more affordable.” [Denver Business Journal, 6/16/11]