Shortly before the 2006 election, the U.S. attorney in Wisconsin, Steven Biskupic, went after Georgia Thompson, an aide to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D). Biskupic accused Thompson “of steering a state travel contract to a firm whose top officials were major campaign contributors to Doyle.” The case was a boon to the Republican gubernatorial candidate in the 2006 election, who “ran a barrage of attack ads that purported to tie Ms. Thompson’s ‘corruption’ to Doyle.”
In a “stunning reversal,” the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the conviction in April “within hours of oral arguments due to a simple lack of evidence.” Federal Appeals Judge Diane Wood said that the “evidence [was] beyond thin.”
A new report in the Isthmus Daily Paper shows that Biskupic “repeatedly offered to go easy on her [Thompson] if she were to implicate others in the administration of Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle,” indicating that Biskupic’s case was based on partisan politics. Similarly, Thompson “repeatedly rejected the plea agreements because she said she had no information” about improprieties in the Doyle administration:
“It was the only time in my career that, after the person was sentenced, the prosecutor has called to renew the discussion,” says [Thompson’s lawyer Stephen] Hurley, who’s been a criminal defense attorney for more than three decades. “I’ve never had that happen before.”
These offers, though not necessarily indicative of improper conduct, suggest that Biskupic and his staff prosecuted Thompson as part of a larger agenda, with potential political overtones.
Documents indicate that Biskupic went after the Bush administration’s political opponents to avoid the Justice Department’s list attorneys targeted for removal. In 2005, the Wisconsin state Republican party prepared a report for Karl Rove that attacked Biskupic for not going after voter fraud aggressively enough.
The Bush administration set out to replace U.S. attorneys in at least nine battleground states. In at least seven, “U.S. attorneys were fired or considered for firing as Republicans in those states urged investigations or prosecutions of alleged Democratic voter fraud.” It appears that Biskupic was able to keep his job because he was willing to go after the Bush administration’s adversaries on thin evidence.