Patterico's Pontifications

4/17/2007

Lets Bring Some Facts to the Conversation About US Attorney Biskupic and the Thompson case.

Filed under: General — WLS @ 2:35 pm

[Posted By WLS]

Let me weigh in on a point about the Thompson prosecution, and the characterization of it as “bogus.” That is not correct. This is a long post, but stick with me on this.

What the prosecutors pursued against Thompson was a two-count case charging Honest Services Mail Fraud (use of the mails in connection with government corruption) and Misapplication of Public Funds.

The facts of the Thompson case are that she sat on a panel of 7 civil servants responsible for awarding a contract for state travel services. Six months before the Request For Proposal was issued, representatives of Adelman Travel met with state officials, and provided them a draft RFP. Thompson was aware of this, so she knew that Adelman Travel enjoyed some political connections.

When the RFP was ultimately issued, the two top bidders were Adelman Travel and Omega Travel. Adelman was a Wisconsin-based travel agency, and Omega is a national firm based in Fairfax, Virginia.

During the committee’s scoring process on the bids, Thompson said she inflated her scores on Adelman’s bid, and encouraged other committee members to do the same, though it’s not clear any other member of the committee did so. It’s also not clear whether Thompson’s scoring of the bid changed the ultimate outcome as to which bid scored higher, and the testimony was that the bids were for all practical purposes a tie.

There was testimony that in the committee meeting, Thompson made comments that “Politically, this won’t fly” if Adelman didn’t get the contract, and “My bosses don’t want to hear about anyone but Adelman.”

While Adelman Travel’s owners had made large but lawful political contributions to the governor, there was no evidence that Thompson knew about them when the committee was going through the bid process.

The allegation of the indictment was that Thompson influenced the awarding of the contract so to cause political advantage for her supervisor; and to enhance her job security.

There is a very enlightening tape of the entire oral argument before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals available. It’s about 26 minutes long — not too bad. But if you skip to about the 12:30 mark you get the questioning by the Court of the prosecutor, which is where the guts of the argument happens.

Click here to hear the argument.

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Monday-Morning Quarterbacking

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 6:16 am

We all know that the press loves nothing better than Monday-morning quarterbacking. But tell me the truth: before yesterday, if you were running a university, and you heard there was a murder of two people with a gun on campus, would your instant reaction really have been to shut the campus down?

I can tell you frankly that would not have been my reaction.

Am I missing something?

The Biskupic Claim: A Matter of Faith

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:08 am

Tom Maguire — who has been peddling the wonderful cliche-avoidance line “they have bupkis on Buskupic” — responds to my time travel post on Biskupic with this comment:

I love the time travel angle, but – Biskupic may have been feeling heat during 2006 even if he was not officially on a [s]hit list.

Orin Kerr makes a similar comment:

I see Marshall arguing that the baseless prosecution shows that the U.S. Attorney was under political pressure to indict Democrats in 2005, but I’m having trouble finding the claim that the prosecution was brought to get off the list after having been put on it in late 2006.

Kerr adds:

I believe “the TPM crowd”’s claim is that the Thompson prosecution shows how much Bi[s]kupic felt pressured to bring bogus cases back in 2005. In contrast, your post here seems to assume the TPM crowd’s claim is that all of a sudden, in late 2006, Biskupic decided to prosecute Democrats to get off the list. I think eveyone can see that if the TPM crowd is making that latter claim, it makes no sense. But I can’t seem to find anyone making that claim.

My point, however, was not whether Biskupic was “feeling heat,” as Maguire puts it — but whether the Bush Administration was wielding a flame-thrower. Even if, as Maguire and Kerr suggest, Biskupic felt pressure to bring the Thompson case in late 2005 and early 2006, that is relevant only if it can be established that he did so in response to pressure from the Bush Administration. In other words, the Democrat case is premised on the assumption that the Thompson prosecution was significant to the Bush Administration.

But the timing is inconsistent with that contention. The Administration put Biskupic on a firing list after the Thompson prosecution was concluded. Doesn’t that suggest the opposite of what the TPM crowd has been implying?

Now, I’m not saying that lefties are making this claim with the timing in mind. What I’m saying is that they have made this claim without thinking through the issue of the timing.

It’s clear that several lefties in recent days have implied that Biskupic kept himself off the firing list with the Thompson prosecution. They have unquestionably implied the existence of a connection. Let’s look at some examples.

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