Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

What sentence for Georgia?


With the conviction of Georgia Thompson on two felony counts – causing misapplication of funds and participating in a scheme to defraud the State of Wisconsin of the right to honest services – Mike Mathias raises a great question: how long should she be sentenced?

We would have to assume that she acted either out of self-interest, partisan interest (disputed by Doyle’s supporters) or at the order of her superiors. Since option #2 can supposedly be ruled out, it must be supposed that she committed the two felonies out of self-interest, to curry favor with those administration officials that are her superiors.

That is certainly what we are being told by the prosecution, at least for now. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic said after the verdict that the case was about “Georgia Thompson and Georgia Thompson alone.” She was found guilty of manipulating the travel bidding to “cause political advantage for her supervisors” and bolster her own job security.

So we’re left at this point having to believe that Thompson acted out of her own self-interest. If that is the case, I would argue she is certainly due a very harsh penalty.

The only other possibility is that she acted at the order or request of her superiors, in which case she could demonstrate that by testifying against the people above her. Biskupic does seem to leave an opening for that possibility:

Biskupic said the team that investigated the case, which included him, Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager and Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard, would meet soon to discuss matters.

He declined to say whether any other Doyle administration officials or others would now be targeted.

“I don’t want people to read too much into it, other than we are trying to be careful in what we do,” said Biskupic, an appointee of President Bush’s.

Like Doyle, Lautenschlager and Blanchard are Democrats.

Biskupic could’ve have said the case was now over, but instead decided to leave the possibility open for further investigation. At this point Thompson could offer to testify against others in the administration for a lighter sentence recommendation – if she has some reason to do so.

It is a first offence, and I’m not sure what federal sentencing guidelines call for. But I think you’ll agree with me that she should be treated more harshly than if there were some misguided but personally disinterested motive for her actions.

What still is fascinating to me is the reaction of the Doyle campaign. What is so precious about the $20,000 in donations from Adelman travel executives that Doyle continues to cling to them? After all, he previously acknowledged the contract bidding process was corrupted when he cancelled the state travel contract. Now that someone is actually going to jail over that donation, Doyle is still clinging to the money. Again the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Doyle campaign aide Anson Kaye said Monday that Doyle would not return the Adelman contributions because only Thompson was involved in wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, regardless of how the trial turned out, we still have some unanswered questions for former DOA Secretary Marc Marotta and Governor Jim Doyle. Just what were all those meetings with Adelman travel about? If the bidding process was not important enough to notice, then why have those meetings before the bidding process began? Or during the bidding process? Why deny later any knowledge of the process, only to have it come out in court that you did know?

Does Marc Marotta have an attorney working for him in this investigation? Does the governor? Is the governor willing to pardon any other administration officials who may have worked with Thompson to swing the deal to Adelman Travel?

And most importantly, why would Georgia Thompson believe that giving the contract to Adelman Travel would please her superiors in the Doyle Administration?

It’s that last question that will be the toughest to answer for Doyle.

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