Chips and Dip

Oops. Tommy Thompson had a money implant, not an RFID chip.

Earlier today, in an item about the creepy RFID chips, I wrote that erstwhile presidential candidate Tommy G. Thompson had had a chip implanted:

Former Bush health secretary Tommy Thompson had an RFID tag implanted a few years ago — the lap dog was named to the board of a company that makes them, so he was more than willing.

But Jason Denby, a Thompson aide at the law firm Akin Gump (where the former Wisconsin governor hangs his hat), writes to say:

I read your article online and felt I should clarify that former Secretary Thompson was never implanted with the chip. He made a statement at one point that he would, but only when his current medical professionals had the technology to utilize it.

He is also no longer a member of the board of the company.

Thanks, Jason, and sorry about that. Yes, Thompson vowed to get a chip but never did get one; I relied on an outdated story, so my error.

Thompson was indeed on the board of VeriChip, but he no longer is. Before he left, the company implanted a nice bundle of money in him. He didn't need no stinkin' chip to get that bundle, thanks in part to an inside deal the company had with Akin Gump.

This is yet another item in the unending catalog of top government officials whoring themselves out to the private sector and getting money and stock for doing nothing more than having connections.

Yes, I'm stating the obvious. So what? I previously noted Jerry Bremer's sweet deal with BlastGard, which sells reinforced wrap to protect Humvees from roadside bombs. That's just too rich, isn't it?

So, sorry for stating the obvious that, while most Americans are about to be engulfed by a recession or depression, people like Bremer and Thompson are making money for doing little but simply existing.

Regarding Thompson, SEC records on VeriChip's parent note that during 2006, the company paid $800,000 to Akin Gump as its legal counsel. The records go on:

Tommy G. Thompson, a partner with Akin Gump, was a member of VeriChip’s board of directors from July 2005 to March 8, 2007, and, as a result of his directorship services, as of December 31, 2007, holds fully vested options to purchase 55,556 shares of our common stock.

A subsequent SEC document filed earlier this year clarified things: VeriChip got a bill from Akin Gump for legal fees of $1.2 million during 2005 and 2006. As a result of his being a director for less than two years, he got fully vested options to purchase 100,000 shares of stock.

That's a nice deal, but maybe not as nice as the one he now has with Pure Bioscience, a California company that makes pesticides and disinfectants. Thompson is a board member of Pure.

SEC records filed in the past few weeks show that Pure inked a two-year consulting contract with Thompson. Very handy fellow for Pure — Thompson has deals as a board member and consultant. Under the consulting deal, Thompson was to be paid $12,500 a month and got an option to purchase 300,000 shares of that company's stock. But wait, there's more: Another consultant (and board member at the time), Michael Sitton, then transferred the rights to 700,000 options to Thompson. After the dust cleared, Thompson owned a cool million options.

Cool, yeah, but too hot to hang onto.

SEC insider-trading records — click here for Thompson's recent insider trades — show that, among other deals, Thompson bought 100,000 shares of Pure for 85 cents a share. That transaction was on January 15, 2008. Seven days later, he sold 20,000 shares of Pure for $5.28 cents a share. Nice going. He sold some more off during the next several weeks — all for more than $5 a share. These were "automatic" sales, so that somehow sanctifies them.

Thompson didn't need an RFID chip to home in on subsequent lucrative deals emanating from his catbird seats at Pure. On March 3, he exercised his options on 161,000 shares, paying $1 a share. Since then, he's been selling them off in dribs and drabs at prices ranging from $5 to $6 a share. Let's see: You buy a share for $1 and you sell it either the same day or within days for $5 or $6.

This is not shocking. This lazy-ass, money-for-nothing churning is business as usual on Wall Street. Too bad the news of it doesn't get hammered into our brains. We're the fools for not getting outraged.

Just to show that Thompson is no fool, on April 1 he sold 25,000 shares of Pure at $5.99 per share, making his proceeds $149,750. Not bad for a day's non-work.

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