By Dan Bice | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
It was odd enough that ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson took over as chairman of the board for a Florida pharmaceutical firm in the middle of his U.S. Senate campaign.
In making the announcement, TherapeuticsMD - which specializes in providing over-the-counter and prescription drugs to women - pointed to Thompson's years as U.S. health and human services secretary, including his role in adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare.
But then a spokesman for the former four-term Wisconsin governor said Thompson was planning to do the company work for free.
"The governor has served as an uncompensated adviser to TherapeuticsMD for the past year, and the acceptance of the board appointment reflects his belief in the women's health products the company offers," Thompson campaign aide Brian Nemoir told the Huffington Post in May. "Obviously, he would not have accepted the uncompensated board appointment if he felt it competed with the demands of the Senate race."
Uncompensated board appointment? When did Thompson start taking board positions for free?
But Thompson's pro bono board work for TherapeuticsMD did not last long.
According to corporate filings, Thompson has since been awarded 75,000 stock options "for his services as a director and as Chairman of the Board during the 2012 calendar year." The company granted the stock options on June 29, a little more than a month after the announcement that he had joined the board.
Thompson - who is running against U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a Madison Democrat, for the open seat - can buy the TherapeuticsMD stock at $2.80 per share at the end of the year. The pharmaceutical company's stock closed at $3.45 a share Friday. He has 10 years to exercise his options.
Baldwin spokesman John Kraus suggested that the former governor knew all along that he was going to be paid for his work on the board. The news release on the appointment does not say that Thompson would offer his services for free.
"This wouldn't be the first time that Thompson senior adviser Brian Nemoir misled the media," Kraus said Friday.
Lisa Boothe, Thompson's communications director, said no one misled anyone regarding Thompson and TherapeuticsMD.
Boothe said the original statement was accurate, but the circumstances changed.
"It was uncompensated at the time and now, it is compensated," Boothe said in an email.
Boothe also played down the value of the stock options.
The strike price, she noted, was set at $2.80 a share, the price of the stock on the day Thompson was granted his options.
But the stock price for TherapeuticsMD has risen in the last three months. If he could have exercised and sold his options last week, Thompson would have netted nearly $50,000.
The options don't vest, however, until Dec. 31.
Boothe emphasized that Thompson may never exercise the options.
"The stock option grant you reference is a grant of unvested stock options which is not income," Boothe said. "In addition, Governor Thompson as previously noted will resign from all boards and so, the restrictions on these options may never be satisfied and thus, forfeited."