US Attorney Mess Spreads to Wisconsin

Sen. Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, is calling for embattled U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to consider reinstating any U.S. attorney who was improperly dismissed in a political purge, the Bloomberg news agency reports.

Meanwhile, Adam Cohen of the New York Times, in a news analysis, reports that questions are being raised about why another U.S. attorney put an innocent woman in jail in a fraud prosecution that may have been politically motivated.

In a highly unusual move, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a hearing earlier this month ordered Wisconsin state employee Georgia Thompson released immediately before issuing a written opinion. (Her purported crime, according to the New York Times article, was awarding a state contract to the lowest bidder.) “Your evidence is beyond thin,” Judge Diane Wood said to counsel for the prosecution at the time. “I’m not sure what your actual theory in this case is.”

Members of Congress, Cohen writes, “should ask whether it was by coincidence or design that Steven Biskupic, the United States attorney in Milwaukee, turned a flimsy case into a campaign issue that nearly helped Republicans win a pivotal governor’s race.”

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