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Fred Thompson to Speak at Summer Meeting

Donna Young

On July 16, 1973, Fred Dalton Thompson, the minority counsel on the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities—the Watergate committee—asked former White House aide Alexander P. Butterfield a question that rocked the Nixon administration and the nation:

"Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?"

About 10 days later, the committee subpoenaed tapes that President Richard M. Nixon had made of all of his meetings and conversations in the Oval Office, cabinet room, and Executive Office Building and on his personal telephones from spring 1971 to July 1973.

Just over a year later, Nixon became the first president of the United States to resign.

Thompson, a lawyer, Tennessee Republican who served in the U.S. Senate from 1994 to 2002, and well-known actor—currently featured in the role of New York District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC's crime drama Law & Order—is the guest speaker at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Summer Meeting Opening Gala on Sunday, June 20, in Las Vegas.

After Watergate, Thompson returned to practicing law in Tennessee but was once again thrust into the public spotlight in 1977 when he helped expose a cash-for-clemency scandal in which prisoners had bribed state officials in exchange for being released from prison.

The scandal became the subject of a book and 1985 film, Marie, in which Thompson portrayed himself.

He went on to act in other films, including The Hunt for Red October, Cape Fear, No Way Out, and Die Hard II.

Thompson graduated from Memphis State University in 1964 with a degree in philosophy and political science, and received his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1967. Two years later, he was appointed an assistant U.S. attorney.

In 1972, he worked on the reelection campaign for Senator Howard Baker Jr., a Tennessee Republican. It was Baker who summoned Thompson to Washington in 1973 to serve as minority counsel for the Watergate committee.

During his time in the Senate, Thompson served on the Committee on Finance, which has jurisdiction over Medicare, Medicaid, welfare reform, taxes, Social Security, and international trade.

He also served as a member of the Senate committees of Judiciary, Foreign Relations, the Special Committee on Aging, and Government Affairs—a committee for which he was appointed chair in 1997.

Thompson left the Senate in 2002.

Cardinal Health Inc. is sponsoring Thompson's appearance at the Summer Meeting.