2006.06.15: June 15, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Tunisia: Politics: State Government: CBS News: Thompson Conviction Hurts Doyle

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tunisia: Special Report: RPCV Jim Doyle, Governor of Wisconsin: Jim Doyle: Newest Stories: 2006.06.15: June 15, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Tunisia: Politics: State Government: CBS News: Thompson Conviction Hurts Doyle

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Thompson Conviction Hurts Doyle

Thompson Conviction Hurts Doyle

A federal jury Monday found purchasing official Georgia Thompson guilty of rigging the contract-awarding process to ensure the Adelman Travel Group won the state's business. The company's chief executive and a board member gave $10,000 each to Doyle's campaign before and after winning the contract. Doyle himself has not been accused of any wrongdoing. But the verdict injects a potentially explosive issue into his campaign to become the first Democratic governor to win re-election in Wisconsin in 32 years. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and his wife served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Tunisia in the 1960's.

Thompson Conviction Hurts Doyle

Experts: Thompson Conviction Hurts Doyle
Analysts say Georgia Thompson's conviction affects Jim Doyle's re-election bid in Wis. gov. race

MADISON, Wis., Jun. 15, 2006
By RYAN J. FOLEY Associated Press Writer
(AP)


(AP) The Democrats' hopes of holding on to the governor's office in this swing state may have taken a hit with the conviction of a state official on charges of steering a contract to a travel agency that donated to Gov. Jim Doyle.

A federal jury Monday found purchasing official Georgia Thompson guilty of rigging the contract-awarding process to ensure the Adelman Travel Group won the state's business. The company's chief executive and a board member gave $10,000 each to Doyle's campaign before and after winning the contract.

Doyle himself has not been accused of any wrongdoing. But the verdict injects a potentially explosive issue into his campaign to become the first Democratic governor to win re-election in Wisconsin in 32 years.

He faces Republican Rep. Mark Green in November, and polls show the race a dead heat. Even before the conviction, several analysts said Doyle was among the most vulnerable Democratic governors running for re-election.

"I think this is definitely going to be an issue in the race, especially in an election cycle where ethics is playing a role," said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst for the Cook Political Report. "As Democrats have pushed this message of a culture of corruption at the national level, it has a backlash effect on someone like Doyle."

Voters in Wisconsin, a state known for its clean government, tend to punish elected officials for corruption, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

"Does this trial mean Doyle himself is corrupt? Of course not," Sabato said. "But he's going to be held accountable for what's happened in his administration."

Doyle said Tuesday that the trial made clear Thompson acted alone, and that he has "zero tolerance for ethical lapses in government." He said he is not worried the conviction could hurt him politically.

"I've been around tough campaigns before and I know that there are going to be a lot of accusations back and forth," Doyle said. "The fact is that this was a verdict about one state employee, a woman to this day I've never met."

But two jurors said Wednesday that they believe higher-ranking officials were involved.

"What can you expect the governor to say? He can't say 'I told her to do this,'" said Marvin Bizzelle, a retired metal polisher. "But you can bet on one thing: He knew everything that was going on. On that, nobody in the jury room had any doubt whatsoever."

The foreman, businessman Victor Nohl, also said Thompson's superiors appeared to have pressed for Adelman.

"That's what the evidence tended to show," he said, adding that he "really couldn't say" who else might have been involved.

Both national parties are focusing on the contest because they believe control of the governor's office will help them carry the state in the 2008 White House race. John Kerry defeated President Bush to take the state's 10 electoral votes by 11,000 votes out of nearly 3 million cast in 2004.

During the trial, U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic painted a cozy relationship between Doyle and Adelman. The governor met with Adelman executives months before the contract competition, and his top aide at the time met and traded calls with Adelman before and during the competition. Doyle appeared at the company's 20th anniversary party last summer, months after it won the contract worth an estimated $750,000.

Thompson, a civil servant, said she was unaware of the close relationship between Doyle and Adelman and felt no pressure to award the contract to Adelman. She resigned Wednesday.

But the state Republican Party, which has cited the case as evidence of cronyism, said juror Bizzelle's comments show Doyle's "lone gunman theory" doesn't make sense.

"It's pretty telling when a private citizen who sat through hours upon hours of testimony reaches the conclusion that Georgia Thompson didn't act alone," state GOP executive director Rick Wiley said in a statement.

Green called for a change in state law to prohibit campaign contributions from companies competing for state business.

Doyle canceled the contract after the indictment but has refused to return the donations.


MMVI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.





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Story Source: CBS News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Tunisia; Politics; State Government

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