by Shaun Booth
Shortly after stepping down as Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson served on the Board of Directors of Applied Digital Solutions (ADS), the company that produced the VeriChip (a glass chip injected under the skin of humans and animals). The chip was marketed to store medical information or for GPS tracking capability. Thompson served as the public spokesman for ADS during the roll out of the VeriChip.
While the chip was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and was touted by the American Medical Association it failed the public opinion test miserably. The VeriChip was eventually discontinued in 2010. In a 2005 interview, VeriChip spokesperson John Procter explained that while only 60 people in the US had been voluntarily chipped, the company had chipped over 100 corpses in the Katrina tragedy as well as mentally disabled patients in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In an interview with MarketWatch in 2005 Thompson states that anybody that has concerns with the product should not worry because it is “completely voluntary.” He then immediately goes on to state that prime candidates for the VeriChip are babies and elderly patients with dementia. Thompson also drew criticism for stating publicly that he would not hesitate to have the VeriChip implanted in his own arm, only to avoid injection giving the excuse that he was too busy.
The willingness to be the public spokesman for a company that was injecting chips in the mentally disabled and corpses from Hurricane Katrina, demonstrates questionable judgement on the part of Thompson. While Thompson ran for the GOP nomination in 2007, he dropped out on August 12th, so there was no need for a public vetting process. Whether Thompson was wholeheartedly behind the VeriChip or he was a pitchman desperate for a big paycheck, neither scenario speaks highly of Thompson’s ability to represent Wisconsin in Washington on the floor of the US Senate.
Thompson talking about the wonders of the Verichip
The VeriChip was marketed as a medical device but its parent company does not have any other medical devices and is strictly a GPS tracking and telecommunications company besides the medically marketed VeriChip, which left the door open for unsettling possibilities for the VeriChip.
Thompson may very well believe that his activity since leaving public office will not be fully explored in the public domain in this election cycle. He may be relying on the intense public focus on the Walker recall election. With the Walker recall election being scheduled for June 5th there will be a shortened calendar for Mark Neumann, Jeff Fitzgerald and Eric Hovde to make their case against Thompson. The election will also be taking place in the heat of the Presidential campaign as well as hundreds of other federal races.
It will be interesting if Neumann, Fitzgerald or Hovde pick up the VeriChip story in attacks on Thompson as the campaign develops.