Tommy Thompson

Infobox US Cabinet official
name=Tommy George Thompson

title=Secretary of Health and Human Services

flagicon|United States

term_start=February 2, 2001
term_end=January 26, 2005
president=George W. Bush
predecessor=Donna Shalala
successor=Mike Leavitt
birth_date=birth date and age|1941|11|19
birth_place=Elroy, Wisconsin
religion=Roman Catholic
alma_mater=University of Wisconsin-Madison
title2=Governor of Wisconsin


term_start2=January 5, 1987
term_end2=February 1, 2001
lieutenant2=Scott McCallum
predecessor2=Tony Earl
successor2=Scott McCallum

Tommy George Thompson (born November 19, 1941), a United States politician, was the 42nd Governor of Wisconsin and the 7th U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Thompson was a candidate for the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, but dropped out early after a poor performance in polls such as the Iowa Straw Poll. [cite web |url=
title="Tommy Thompson drops presidential bid"
publisher=Associated Press

Early life

Thompson was born in Elroy, Wisconsin, where his father, Allen, ran and owned a gas station and country grocery store, and his mother, Julia, was a teacher. [ [ Ancestry of Tommy Thompson ] ] He is a former Captain in the United States Army and United States Army Reserve, and holds a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Political career

tate Assembly

Thompson was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1966, became assistant Assembly minority leader in 1973, and Assembly minority leader in 1981. [3] He was famous for aggressively utilizing parliamentary procedure to give his minority party some limited say in the legislative process. Since this use of procedure was invariably one of delay and obstruction he soon received the nickname "Dr. No" by the frustrated majority.

Governor of Wisconsin

From 1987 to 2001, Thompson served as the 42nd Governor of Wisconsin, having been elected to an unprecedented four terms.

Thompson's initiatives during his 14 years as governor of Wisconsin were his Wisconsin Works welfare reform and school choice programs. [ [ Highlights at the Wisconsin Historical Society ] ] In 1990 Thompson pushed for the creation of the country's first parental school-choice program, allowing low-income Milwaukee families to send children to the private or public school of their choice at taxpayer expense. He also created the BadgerCare program, designed to provide health coverage to those families whose employers don't provide health insurance but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Through the federal waiver program, Thompson helped replicate this program in several states when he became Secretary of Health and Human Services.

From 1998 to 1999, he served as president of the Council of State Governments and, with the organization's chairman, Senator Kenneth McClintock, the nonvoting member from Puerto Rico, led a top-level delegation to the People's Republic of China.Thompson left office when he was appointed by President George W. Bush as HHS Secretary. He was also a member of the Amtrak Board of Directors and had an Acela locomotive named for him. [cite web |url=
title="Amtrak A. Vital Link in America's Transportation Future"
publisher=United States Department of Health and Human Services
] [ [ Pictures of P42 Genesis #182] ] [ [ Claytor award] ]

His brother, Ed Thompson, the mayor of Tomah, Wisconsin, was the Libertarian Party candidate in the 2002 Wisconsin gubernatorial election.

Health and Human Services Secretary

Thompson announced his resignation from HHS on December 3, 2004, and served until January 26, 2005, when the Senate confirmed his successor, Michael O. Leavitt.

2008 Presidential campaign

After first announcing the formation of an exploratory committee in late 2006, Thompson announced his candidacy for the 2008 presidential election on April 1, 2007. [cite web |url=
title="GOP's Tommy Thompson Enters '08 Race"
news = This Week with George Stephanopoulos
publisher=American Broadcasting Company

During a May 3, 2007, presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Thompson said in response to a question from moderator Chris Matthews that a private employer opposed to homosexuality should have the right to fire a gay worker. [ [ Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: JS Online: PoliticsWatch ] ] He said, "I think that is left up to the individual business. I really sincerely believe that that is an issue that business people have got to make their own determination as to whether or not they should be." He called CNN the following morning to say he didn't hear the question correctly. He apologized, saying, "It's not my position. There should be no discrimination in the workplace."

Thompson had stated he would drop out of the race if he did not finish either first or second in the Ames straw poll on August 11, 2007. Thompson finished sixth, with just 7% of the vote, despite the fact that some major contenders were not competing in the poll. On August 12, Thompson officially announced he would drop out of the race.

In October 2007, Thompson endorsed Rudy Giuliani. Thompson told the Associated Press in a statement that "Rudy Giuliani has shown that he is a true leader. He can and will win the nomination and the presidency. He is America's mayor, and during a period of time of great stress for this country he showed tremendous leadership."He has since endorsed Senator John McCain after Giuliani's withdrawal from the presidential race. [ [ John McCain 2008 ] ]

Private-sector career

Thompson is the President of Logistics Health Incorporated. He also is senior partner at Akin Gump, a Washington, D.C., law firm, and is a senior adviser at the consulting firm Deloitte and the chairman of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. [ [,1007,sid%253D80772%2526cid%253D86217,00.html?wt.mc_id=w Bio: Tommy Thompson, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions] ] Thompson taught a class in the fall of 2005 at the Kennedy School of Government on medical diplomacy. [Thompson, Tommy G. [ "The cure for tyranny"] "Boston Globe", October 24, 2005]

Shortly after leaving his Bush Cabinet post, Thompson joined and served for two years on the board of directors of Applied Digital Solutions, makers of the controversial VeriChip: a glass-encapsulated RFID chip that can be injected into human flesh for various database-driven identification purposes.

Thompson currently serves on the board of Directors for Pure Bioscience Inc. (PURE.OB) that is in the process of introducing a revolutionary new class of non-toxic antimicrobial/disinfectant based on silver dihydrogen citrate (SDC). Thompson also serves on the Board of Trustees of the non-profit, Medical Missions for Children and is the co-host for their television series, "Plain Talk About Health". [ [ Medical Missions for Children Board of Trustees] ]

Thompson also serves as a Senior Advisor to Capital Partners, associated with McKinley Reserve, a Wisconsin corporation with ties to both Hilbert, WI and Dubai.

He is also the National Policy Advisor to U.S. Preventive Medicine [ [ USPM Press Kit] ]


Medicare controversies

After leaving office, Thompson promoted changes to Medicare that some complained would benefit companies Thompson has a financial stake in (including Centene and the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions). [ [ Washington Post: Thompson's Medicaid Reforms Benefit His Employers] ]

Additionally, while in office, Thompson was involved in a dispute over whether the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services had to share cost estimates to Congress for legislation that would create a prescription drug benefit. Critics accused HHS of downplaying the true cost of the law by $150 billion. CMS Administrator Tom Scully threatened to fire the actuary if he revealed to Congress his estimate. Investigators determined that the data was improperly hidden from Congress, but did not conclude whether laws had been broken. [ [ New York Times: Top Medicare Official Threatened Actuary] ]

tatements about Jews, Israel

In April 2007, Thompson apologized for publicized remarks he made while speaking to an assembled crowd of Jewish social activists in Washington, D.C. [ Jonathan Martin, "T. Thompson Apologizes For Jewish Remark", Politico, April 17, 2007] ] On April 18, 2007, appearing before a conference organized by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Thompson made reference to his lucrative transition from public service to the private sector by stating: "You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that." [ Frederic J. Frommer, "Thompson Apologizes for Comments", Washington Post (Associated Press), April 16, 2007] ] After the conclusion of his address, Thompson was reportedly pulled aside privately by the RAC’s Rabbi David Saperstein, and then returned to the podium to issue a clarification, [ Tommy Thompson: “Earning Money” Is “Part of the Jewish Tradition”,, April 16, 2007] ] adding: "I just want to clarify something because I didn't (by) any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things. What I was referring to, ladies and gentlemen, is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion. You've been outstanding business people and I compliment you for that."

Later, Thompson told The Politico that his remarks could be blamed on fatigue and a persistent cold. [ [ The Politico] ]

Thompson made a variety of other lesser comments, including referring to the Anti Defamation League as the fringe Jewish Defense League, Israel bonds as "Jewish bonds". [ Shmuel Rosner, "Friendly advice to American candidates trying to woo the Jewish vote", Haaretz, April 17, 2007] ] [ Candidate: Making money part of Jewish tradition, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 16, 2007] ] [ Craig Gilbert, "Thompson apologizes to Jews for comments", Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, April 16, 2007] ] He also discussed his connections to conservative Israeli and Jewish leaders to the mostly left-leaning activist group.

Conference organizers avoided comment on the gaffes, instead praising Thompson's decision to appear before the group. [ Shmuel Rosner, "Republican presidential hopeful Thompson: Money-making part of Jewish tradition", Haaretz, April 16, 2007] ]

Politicizing of science

In 2001, Nobel laureate physiologist Torsten Wiesel was nominated by Gerald Keusch (then an employee of HHS: director of the Fogarty International Center, the branch of the National Institutes of Health) for a position on an advisory panel in the National Institutes of Health to advise on assisting research in developing countries. Thompson, who at the time was Secretary of Health and Human Services, rejected Wiesel. Thompson's office rejected 19 of 26 nominations and in return sent résumés for other scientists that his employee Keusch described in an interview as "lightweights" with "no scientific credibility". When Weisel's name was rejected, an official in Thompson's office told Keusch that Wiesel had "signed too many full-page letters in The New York Times critical of President Bush." This incident was cited by the advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists as part of a report detailing their allegations of President George W. Bush's abuse of science.cite journal |author=Emma Marris |title=Bush accused of trying to foist favourites on health agency |journal=Nature |volume=430 |issue=281 |year=2004 |doi=10.1038/430281a |date=14 July 2004 |url= |pages=281] cite book |title=Undermining Science: Suppression and Distortion in the Bush Administration |author=Seth Shulman |year=2007 |publisher=University of California Press]

Electoral history

1998 Race for Governor
* Tommy Thompson (R) (inc.), 60%
* Ed Garvey (D), 39%

1994 Race for Governor
* Tommy Thompson (R) (inc.), 67%
* Chuck Chvala (D), 31%

1990 Race for Governor
* Tommy Thompson (R) (inc.), 58%
* Tom Loftus (D), 42%

1986 Race for Governor
* Tommy Thompson (R), 53%
* Tony Earl (D) (inc.), 46%


External links

;Official sites
* [ Biography] from the White House
* [ Logistics Health Incorporated]

;Documentaries, topic pages and databases
* [ Federal Election Commission - Tommy G. Thompson (President)] campaign finance reports
* [ On the Issues - Tommy Thompson] issue positions and quotes
* [ PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer - Vote 2008: Tommy Thompson]
* [ Project Vote Smart - Tommy G. Thompson]
* [ "Tommy Thompson and the Conservative Revolution"] ; primary source material compiled by the Wisconsin Historical Society
* [ Tommy G. Thompson Collection, 1957- [ongoing] Special Collections & Archives, Marquette University (archive of materials donated by Thompson and others)

;Media coverage
* [ New York Times - Tommy G. Thompson] news stories and commentary
*Skiba, Katherine M. [ "Mr. Thompson goes corporate"] "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel", February 25, 2006

succession box
before=Tony Earl
title=Governor of Wisconsin
years=1987 - 2001
after=Scott McCallum
U.S. Secretary box
before=Donna Shalala
department=Secretary of Health and Human Services
president=George W. Bush
years=2001 - 2005
after=Michael O. Leavitt


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