Fred Thompson and the Drug Dealer

GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson has been able to overcome charges that he lobbied for pro-choice advocacy groups and gave legal advice to lawyers who were defending the Pan Am 103 terrorists, but now he's got an adviser and donor to his campaign who is a convicted drug dealer.

Republican presidential candidate Fred D. Thompson has been crisscrossing the country since early this summer on a private jet lent to him by a businessman and close adviser who has a criminal record for drug dealing.

Thompson selected the businessman, Philip Martin, to raise seed money for his White House bid. Martin is one of four campaign co-chairmen and the head of a group called the "first day founders." Campaign aides jokingly began to refer to Martin, who has been friends with Thompson since the early 1990s, as the head of "Thompson's Airforce."

Thompson's frequent flights aboard Martin's twin-engine Cessna 560 Citation have saved him more than $100,000, because until the law changed in September, campaign-finance rules allowed presidential candidates to reimburse private jet owners for just a fraction of the true cost of flights.

Martin entered a plea of guilty to the sale of 11 pounds of marijuana in 1979; the court withheld judgment pending completion of his probation. He was charged in 1983 with violating his probation and with multiple counts of felony bookmaking, cocaine trafficking and conspiracy. He pleaded no contest to the cocaine-trafficking and conspiracy charges, which stemmed from a plan to sell $30,000 worth of the drug, and was continued on probation.

Thompson's campaign said the candidate was not aware of the multiple criminal cases, for which Martin served no jail time. All are described in public court records.

Karen Hanretty, Thompson's deputy communications director, said yesterday that "Senator Thompson was unaware of the information until this afternoon. Phil Martin has been a friend of the senator since the mid-1990s and remains so today." Thompson communications director Todd Harris added that Martin was not subjected to the campaign's standard vetting process because "he's a longtime friend."

"There's not a campaign in the world that has the ability to research every one of its supporters going back more than 20 years," Harris said.
If this happened to a Democrat -- and I'm not saying it couldn't -- that candidacy would be over. Not because the Democrats have higher standards for big-time donors and they do a perfect job of screening their friends -- one Norman Hsu comes to mind -- but because if the news got out that one of Hillary Clinton's or John Edwards's contributors and advisers had a rap sheet like Mr. Martin, the streets would be littered with the remains of the exploding heads of the Orcosphere. Bill O'Reilly would go absolutely batshit crazy, which would be an event in itself, seeing as how he does that every night anyway. But when it's one of their own, the righties do a great job of dismissing it as old news, nothing to see here, folks, move on...and for good measure, Bill Clinton killed his drug dealing connections at an airstrip in Arkansas. Didn't you see "The Clinton Chronicles"?

If anything, this may boost Thompson's flagging campaign, at least among the constituency of voters who identify with the bad guys from a Steven Segal Fred Dalton Thompson.

Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.

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