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Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin Senate Candidate, Accepts Corporate Board Chairmanship

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Wisconsin Senate Candidate Tommy Thompson
Wisconsin Senate Candidate Tommy Thompson

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, a current Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Wisconsin, has accepted the board chairmanship at a Florida pharmaceutical company.

TherapeuticsMD, a Boca Raton-based drug company and parent company of vitaMedMD, announced Thompson's appointment to the board chairmanship last week, touting his background at HHS, including his work in adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare during his tenure. Thompson, a former four-term Wisconsin governor who led the HHS during President George W. Bush's first term, has held a series of corporate board seats, primarily with health and drug companies since leaving the cabinet.

"We are honored to have someone with Secretary Thompson's background and understanding of the health-care industry join our board of directors," TherapeuticsMD chief executive officer Robert Finizio said in a statement last week. "We look forward to the guidance that will be brought to our company through Secretary Thompson's knowledge and experience."

TherapeuticsMD did not specify Thompson's duties as board chairman or if he would be advising the company on its dealing with HHS. The company manufactures drugs related to women's reproductive health, including during pregnancy and menopause and dietary supplements.

Thompson spokesman Brian Nemoir said that the Senate candidate is not being paid for his role at TherapeuticsMD.

"The governor has served as an uncompensated advisor to Therapeutics MD for the past year, and the acceptance of the board appointment reflects his belief in the women's health products the company offers," Nemoir told HuffPost. "Obviously, he would not have accepted the uncompensated board appointment if he felt it competed with the demands of the Senate race."

Thompson is currently locked in a three-way GOP primary against former Rep. Mark Neumann and state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald for the right to challenge Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) in November for the seat held by retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D). Thompson, who briefly ran for president in 2008, has been challenged by Tea Party factions in the race.

Thompson was also a partner in a Washington law firm after he stepped down from the HHS in 2005. He held a position as a senior advisor with the consulting firm Deloitte and chaired the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. He is an operating partner with MTS Health Investors, a New York-based private equity firm specializing in the health-care sector.

A Bloomberg BusinessWeek profile lists Thompson as a current or former board member, chairman or advisory board member of more than 20 companies, primarily in the health field. This includes chairing the board at AGA Medical Holdings and Careview Communications and serving on the boards of Centene Corporation and MedCo. A year ago, Thompson was elected board chairman at StayHealthy, a California-based health-care company. In addition to the board appointments, Thompson is also listed as a senior advisor to U.S. Preventative Medicine Inc.

Nemoir said that Thompson's background in the health-care industry has "placed him in high demand" with companies. He also indicated that Thompson's health-care background would serve him well in the Senate, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed by the Supreme Court.

Thompson has been scaling back his corporate involvement in order to focus on the Senate race and plans to step down from all corporate board seats should he become a senator, Nemoir said.

"The governor is in the midst of scaling back his involvement in non-campaign related commitments to best-address the demands of the U.S. Senate campaign. The governor is a proven winner, and both understands and is committed to what it takes to be Wisconsin's next senator."

While Thompson's camp is indicating that he plans to scale back his corporate activities, Democrats were quick to attack him for accepting the TherapeuticsMD post in the middle of the campaign.

"Once again, Tommy Thompson has been caught red-handed selling his influence in Washington and position in government to the highest bidder," Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Matt Canter said. "While Tommy claims to be running for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, his interactions with this Florida company show that he is still focused on one thing - his own bottom line. How can Wisconsinites trust that Thompson will fight for them when even as a Senate candidate, Thompson's still putting himself and his own bank account first."

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