Defending himself in a debate Thursday night, Wisconsin Republican Senate contender Tommy Thompson dramatically underestimated the amount of stock he owned in companies that do business with Iran or help its nuclear programs.
Challenged on his holdings by Democratic opponent Rep. Tammy Baldwin after The Huffington Post revealed one the companies in which Thompson invested is a partner with Iran in uranium mining, Thompson said he sold his shares as soon as he learned about it that day.
HuffPost had reached out to the Thompson campaign for comment but got no reply. That didn't come until the debate, when Baldwin brought up the report.
"I did not know about the fact that my stockbroker had purchased two shares, two company stocks," Thompson said. "I sold it. I sold it today. I found out today and I sold it today."
But Thompson owned more than two shares, and shares in more than two companies. It was actually five companies, and up to 800 shares worth up to $50,000.
According to his personal financial disclosure, he owned up to $1,000 worth of stock in the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation. All were cited in a recent Government Accountability Office study as having done business with Iran.
Gazprom appears to own a 49 percent stake in the firm Atomstroyexport, which is building Iran's nuclear reactor.
Thompson owned potentially more significant stakes in Royal Dutch Shell -- between $3,000 and $17,000, based on the ranges disclosed -- totaling between 43 and 245 shares.
He also held between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in oil services firm Schlumberger, which would have amounted to between 13 and 200 shares. Schlumberger has been probed by the Justice Department over its Iran work.
Lastly, Thompson owned between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in Rio Tinto, a firm that partners with Iran in a uranium mine in Namibia. The value of Thompson's holdings in Rio Tinto translates to between 19 and 288 shares.
Thompson did not specify which stocks he sold. His spokeswoman, Lisa Boothe, later told reporters: "Gov. Thompson took decisive action when he became aware of stocks his financial adviser purchased. He rid himself of them as soon as he found out they had any business dealings with Iran, no matter how minor. The governor is actively reviewing all of his investments to ensure that he does not invest in a company that does business with Iran."
At a minimum, based on the ranges reported, Thompson's total investment in an Iran-linked portfolio was worth more than $5,000, and comprised more than 80 shares.
Baldwin raised the stock ownership because Thompson had accused her of being to friendly to Iran.
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