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The Reluctantly Corrupt U.S. Atty from Wisconsin

Message Michael Leon

- A copy of this article can be found at the blog, http://malcontends.blogspot.com/. - 

Madison, Wisconsin—U.S. Atty Steven Biskupic enjoyed an excellent reputation in Wisconsin as a professional, non-political prosecutor. 

Biskupic had been a federal prosecutor for some 13 years before his appointment by Pres. Bush as the U.S. Atty for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2002. 

When the Karl Rove-politicized U.S. attys. story broke nationally, several democrats behind the scenes here noted that Biskupic was the consummate pro and that the Rove/Bush political machinations likely did not extend into the office of this public servant. 

"I don't believe for a second (Biskupic) has any tie to Karl Rove-type stuff. In fact, Biskupic was one of the folks the red meat Republicans were mad at," e-mailed one liberal activist with a long history of scrutinizing Biskupic’s career. 

Indeed, Biskupic’s refusal to bring “voter fraud” charges in Milwaukee stemming from allegations made in the 2004 presidential election drew the ire of republican activists, and cemented his first-rate reputation among many liberals in the legal community, further dispelling the notion pushed by some that Biskupic is a Rovian hack. 

That’s all changed now. 

With the extraordinary dismissal by a federal appeals court of a case on April 6 (mere hours after oral arguments) of Georgia Thompson (a state civil servant) on fraud charges, the government’s unfounded indictment (“beyond thin," said federal Appeals Judge Diane Wood) has raised questions of why the case was brought in the first place, the 2006 guilty trial verdict notwithstanding. 

Was Biskupic’s prosecution (featured prominently in the 2006 republican gubernatorial campaign) the work of another "loyal Bushie…," asked Joshua Micah Marshall (and much of the liberal blogosphere), engaging in partisan conduct of his office? 

“I can tell you that from our perspective (the Thompson prosecution) was not, but that is as far as I'm going to go," said Michelle Jacobs of Biskupic’s office in a denial noted for its weakness and ambiguity. 

But at this point it appears to be likely that Biskupic at least sipped from Rove’s kool-aid, though reluctantly, and Biskupic has denied it. 

Biskupic the Reluctant 

One aspect about Biskupic that everyone agrees on is that the man is no lightweight. 

So why would Biskupic prosecute and appeal a case so glaringly weak that it was all but laughed out of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago?

Biskupic is certainly smart enough to know the lack of merits of the case. Was he hoping to wash his sullied hands of the matter by the predictable dismissal by the 7th circuit? 

Would Biskupic have brought a case with the same fact base against someone in a republican office in an election year?

That seems improbable. 

If that were so, then Biskupic committed an “act done with intent to give some advantage inconsistent with official duty and the rights of others...” (Black’s Law definition of corruption). 

“The great irony of the case is that having been wrongfully prosecuted for doing her job for allegedly political reasons, now the question is being asked whether the government engaged in this same behavior,” said Thompson’s attorney, Stephen Hurley, reached by phone this morning. “And not having any proof, I am reluctant to follow in the government’s footsteps.” 

Georgia Thompson might not care; she has her hands full dealing with the aftermath that has taken a devastating toll on her. 

But the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary committees now have another aspect of the U.S. attys’ scandal to investigate. Does everything that Bush and Rove touch turn to cow dung? 
Link for audio of oral arguments from Georgia Thompson's appeal before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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Michael Leon is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His writing has appeared nationally in The Progressive, In These Times, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at maleon64@yahoo.com.
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