By Patrick Marley | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson took ownership of more than $125,000 in stock this month for sitting on the board of a medical device company that has faced lawsuits and federal investigations. 

Thompson in 2005 joined the board of C.R. Bard Inc., a New Jersey medical device maker that last year paid $184 million to resolve 2,600 lawsuits, has about 1,000 other lawsuits pending and has faced investigations by federal prosecutors. 

This month, Thompson took ownership of 1,200 shares in the company, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Thompson did not have to pay anything for the shares, which were valued at about $126,000 when he received them Oct. 1.

Thompson, a Republican former governor and former health secretary to President George W. Bush, is running against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Madison for the Senate. 

Democrats have used Thompson's business ties against him in the race and they seized Monday on the Bard stock award. Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party, told reporters in a conference call with reporters that Thompson should resign from all corporate boards before the Nov. 6 election.

"Why does Tommy Thompson bear no responsibility for the bad acts of these troubled companies?" Tate asked. "He can cash their paychecks, but not answer for their corporate  behavior?"

Thompson spokeswoman Lisa Boothe responded ina statement: "It is pretty pathetic that one week out from election day Madison liberal Tammy Baldwin and her Democrat cronies are still doing everything they can to divert voters' attention away her failed record."

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