House Comm. Slams US Atty Biskupic in DoJ Prosecutions Letter

U.S. Chairman John Conyers Jr., D-Mich. has requested from U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales documents and information concerning the prosecution of former democratic Gov. Don Siegelman in a yesterday.

Siegelman is widely believed to be a victim of a Karl Rove-engineered prosecution.

The letter was signed by four members of the House Committee on the Judiciary, including Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

The letter slams and asks for information about a total of three prosecutions, including the infamous Georgia Thompson prosecution.

The in part:

In order to assure the public that everyone, no matter their political affiliation, is treated equally under the law, we are initially requesting documents relating to the Department's handling of three cases, and in particular any memoranda, analysis, or other communications discussing whether and to what extent criminal charges should be and were pursued against the individuals listed below.

On April 5, 2007, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, citing "evidence [that] is beyond thin," threw out the federal conviction of Georgia Thompson, a Wisconsin state procurement officer. The office of the U.S. Attorney in Wisconsin, Steven Biskupic, had won a jury conviction of Ms. Thompson, claiming the career civil servant impermissibly awarded a contract to a travel agency whose director was a political contributor to Democratic Governor Jim Doyle. The U.S. Attorney proceeded with the prosecution even though the travel agency that won the contract submitted the lowest bid, and tied for first place on the complicated merit score that ranked all contract bidders. Additionally, there was no evidence that Ms. Thompson was aware of or interested in the political contributions by the head of the travel agency.

Steven Biskupic's name appeared on a March, 2005, list that was compiled by Department of Justice staff which named U.S. Attorneys who could potentially be ousted. In January, 2006, Mr. Biskupic indicted Ms. Thompson; that same month, Mr. Biskupic's name had been removed from the DOJ list of U.S. Attorneys who might be replaced. After Ms. Thompson's conviction in June, 2006, the campaign of Gov. Doyle's Republican opponent, U.S. Representative Mark Green, seized on the conviction as a means to paint Gov. Doyle as corrupt. The Court of Appeals, finding that no crime had been committed, acquitted Ms. Thompson, declaring her "innocent," but of course, the political damage had been done and could not be rectified.

On April 10, 2007, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and several other senators requested documents regarding the Georgia Thompson case, including documents regarding contacts between White House personnel, Main Justice, or outside parties and the United States Attorney's office handling the prosecution. Our Committee joined that request the following day. On May 17, 2007, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling responded by producing some documents relevant to other requests made in that letter, but did not produce any documents regarding the Thompson case. Mr. Hertling explained that "processing [the Thompson] documents would require an extensive commitment of resources and time." Mr. Hertling's letter further noted that the Department was in the process of searching for evidence of communications between Main Justice and the local U.S. Attorney's office, and that he expected 'that there were [such] communications during the investigation and prosecution of the case." Finally, Mr. Hertling's letter explained that the search for relevant communications regarding the Thompson case continued in "the Criminal Division, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General." The two months that have passed since Mr. Hertling's letter have not assuaged our concerns regarding the Thompson prosecution, and we are renewing our request that the documents related to that matter be promptly produced as well as the other documents requested in this letter.

###

Published

July 18, 2007 - 6:58am

Author

randomness