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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher November 1, 2012

Senate hopeful Tommy Thompson made millions from outsourcers, pro-Democratic group says

Attacking Tommy Thompson as being "not for you anymore," Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin casts Thompson as someone who has profited from big corporations and who would favor them if he is elected to the U.S. Senate.

Majority PAC, a political action committee that aims to protect the Democratic majority in the Senate, portrays the Republican former governor in much the same way. In a TV ad released Oct. 31, 2012, Majority PAC states:

"Tommy Thompson made millions from corporations who outsource American jobs and now he's trying to lavish huge tax breaks on them."

The claim has two distinct parts.

‘Made millions’ from outsourcers

There’s no disputing that Thompson has made millions of dollars since departing his post as U.S. health and human services secretary under President George W. Bush, a job he held after leaving the Wisconsin governor’s office. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in January 2012 that Thompson’s assets exceeded $13 million, most it from his work as a corporate consultant, executive, investor and speaker after leaving Bush’s cabinet in 2005.

But the Majority PAC’s claim is that he was paid millions specifically by corporations that moved jobs out of the United States. When we asked the group for backup, it provided a document that cited three corporations.

C.R. Bard: Filings from the federal Securities and Exchange Commission show C.R. Bard, a New Jersey medical device firm, has paid Thompson some $1.5 million in cash and stock options since 2005, when he became a board member.

Majority PAC also cited a report by the federal Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance, which investigated a February 2011 complaint filed by a New York state agency on behalf of Bard workers. The report said a significant number of Bard workers lost their jobs because the company shifted some production to Mexico. In December 2011, Bard announced it was cutting 50 New York jobs, some of which could be relocated outside of the U.S., according to a news article that noted that Bard a year earlier had announced 200 job cuts.

In its own attack on Thompson, another group, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, noted that Bard’s 2011 annual report said that "over the past three years, we’ve added close to 300 people in emerging markets in South America, Europe and Asia."

Deloitte: Thompson earned more than $1 million in consulting fees from the accounting firm, according a 2007 disclosure report he filed with the government.

Majority PAC cited statements by Deloitte, including one on the company's website, which say Deloitte offers its clients outsourcing advisory services.

But obviously that’s not the same as directly outsourcing jobs.

Unisys: Thompson’s 2007 disclosure report said he received $5,000 from Harvard Consulting for serving on the Unisys Global Public Sector Advisory Board.

An advisory role is certainly less powerful, and far less lucrative, than Thompson’s role as a Bard board member, although Unisys was involved in outsourcing.

Majority PAC cited an April 2007 news story that reported that Unisys, an information technology company, planned to lay off 950 employees, mainly in the U.S. and in the United Kingdom, while it beefed up operations in cheaper markets such as India, China and Eastern Europe. The company hired about 1,200 workers in those regions, primarily India, in 2006, a company spokesman said in the article.

So, while the first part of the claim suggested Thompson earned multi-millions working for a number of corporations that outsourced jobs, the group’s evidence shows something less than that.

Thompson earned $1.5 million -- virtually all of it from one company -- that sent jobs outside the U.S.

'Lavishing huge tax breaks'

The second part of Majority PAC's claim is that Thompson wants to give huge tax breaks to corporations that outsource.

We've already rated as Half True a nearly identical statement by the AFSCME public employees union, which said in September 2012 that Thompson "supports massive tax cuts for corporations that outsource Wisconsin jobs."

We found Thompson would completely exempt from taxation U.S. companies’ profits from overseas operations, under certain conditions.

But researchers differed on whether U.S. employment would decline under this "territorial" tax approach, with some arguing that businesses would invest more at home as a result of the tax break. And part of Thompson’s plan provides incentives that could convince companies to bring profits back home.

Thompson’s campaign didn’t reply to a request to respond to the Majority PAC ad.

But for a Journal Sentinel story about troubles encountered by companies Thompson oversaw, his campaign spokeswoman said: "It is important to note that as a board member, Governor Thompson is not involved in the daily operations of these companies. Rather, his role, among other things, is to provide a strategic vision to these companies similar to the roles of other directors and officers."

Our rating

Majority PAC said Thompson "made millions from corporations who outsource American jobs and now he's trying to lavish huge tax breaks on them."

Thompson was paid $1.5 million, but that doesn’t match the "millions" claimed in the ad. He supports a tax break for U.S. companies' profits from overseas, but it's possible the tax break could lead to more American jobs.

Majority PAC's statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details -- our definition of Half True.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

Majority PAC, Tommy Thompson TV ad, Oct. 31, 2012

Majority PAC, document to support TV ad

Interview and email interview, Majority PAC communications director Zach Gorin, Oct. 30 and 31, 2012

PolitiFact Wisconsin, "AFSCME says Thompson backs big tax cuts for companies that outsource Wisconsin jobs," Sept. 26, 2012

U.S. Senate, Tommy Thompson financial disclosure report, Jan. 27, 2012

Times-Union, "Bard will cut 200 jobs," Feb. 10, 2011

C.R. Bard, 2011 annual report

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, news release, Aug. 16, 2012

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Senate hopeful Tommy Thompson made millions from outsourcers, pro-Democratic group says

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