Readers might be interested to know that a contingent from Isthmus was among the attendees at last week's 30th annual Association of Alternative Newsweeklies convention, held in Portland,Ore. And why, one might ask, would readers have any interest in that fact? Well, because coincidence can make life just a bit more intriguing when one least expects it.
To wit: The featured speaker at the First Amendment Luncheon was David C. Iglesias, former U.S. attorney for the District of New Mexico. He is one of the so-called Gonzales Eight, a group of U.S. attorneys dismissed from their offices because, it is widely assumed, they failed to bring politically motivated "voter fraud" cases against Democratic candidates before last fall's election. Iglesias spoke about the pressure that came from political appointees in the Department of Justice to prosecute such cases.
Regular readers will recall that in the May 18 issue of Isthmus, news editor Bill Lueders revealed that the prosecuting U.S. attorney in the Georgia Thompson case pressured her to give incriminating evidence about Gov. Jim Doyle in exchange for leniency. (Thompson was a state purchasing agent accused of steering a state contract to a contributor to the governor's election campaign.) She said she was unable to give such evidence because she had none. Thompson was convicted at jury trial and sent to jail but was later freed by the appeals court, which issued a scathing opinion of the original prosecution. The prosecuting attorney was Steven Biskupic.
Readers were told that Lueders had learned of this activity while researching another story. The story he was working on is this week's cover story, a profile of Thompson's (and many others') defense attorney, Stephen Hurley.
In his remarks, Iglesias recalled being at a conference with fellow U.S. Attorney Biskupic during which they were harangued by politically motivated administration representatives to mount voter-fraud cases against Democrats. Iglesias said that Biskupic confided to him in exasperation, "I've prosecuted seven cases, and they are still on my back."
When asked during the question-and-answer session whether Thompson might have been one such case, Iglesias said he did not know enough about it to form an opinion. But, he said, he had read the appeals court decision, and if he had been the prosecutor cited, he would have been extremely embarrassed.
It's surprising what you can hear if you can manage to stay awake after the rubber chicken.