The latest member of the Steven Biskupic Fan Club is Journal Sentinel suburban columnist Mike Nichols, who praises Biskupic in a weekend column.
Biskupic, according to Nichols, is the most non-political federal prosecutor ever to hold office. He’s a straight shooter, a principled prosecutor, who’s so apolitical he probably would have been a monk if he hadn’t chosen public service instead.
Well and good. That may all be true, although it is certainly in some dispute. But even if Nichols is right in his assessment, it does not explain his conclusion. Discussing the Georgia Thompson case, Nichols writes:
Granted, the prosecution of Thompson, the purchasing official in the Doyle Administration, was a bust. Being a political creature like Thompson, it turns out, is not a crime.
But you have to admire a prosecutor who starts from the premise that it might be.
Really? You have to admire Biskupic for prosecuting an innocent woman, sending her to prison and ruining her life?
You see, Georgia Thompson was not “a political creature,” as Nichols would have it, by any stretch of the imagination. She had a long career in the travel industry before joining state government in a non-political civil service position. She was hired by the administration of Republican Gov. Scott McCallum. As a “career executive,” her position was protected from political interference.
Here’s how Thompson described herself in testimony:
Thompson said she votes "sometimes," does not belong to a political party, and does not have bumper stickers on her car. "I'm not a political person," she said.
Biskupic accused her of steering a state travel contract to a company whose president was a supporter, friend and donor to Gov. Jim Doyle. But testimony said she was not even aware of the contributions, and there was no evidence that anyone asked her to favor that company.
Nonetheless, she was convicted and sent to prison without even being allowed to remain free while pursuing her appeal.
Four months later, an incredulous federal appeals court ordered her freed the same day it heard the oral arguments. The reason: She has not committed a crime, and Biskupic had offered no evidence to support his theory that she had.
Nichols would have us admire Biskupic for thinking she might have committed a crime.
What, exactly, is it that we should admire about that?