The Georgia Thompson trial got started yesterday. Federal prosecutors accuse Thompson, a mid-level state purchasing officer, with bid rigging. She was indicted by a federal grand jury on two felony charges of fraud and misapplication of funds. The indictment alleges Thompson steered a state travel contract to Adelman Travel, a company whose top officials contributed heavily to Governor Jim Doyle's campaign.
Thompson is widely considered a small fish caught in a net designed to ensnare much larger targets higher on the political chain of command. But in opening remarks yesterday, federal prosecutor Steven Biskupic made it clear the trial would focus on Thompson, saying his case "is not about the politicians you're going to hear about" during testimony.
The Georgia Thompson-Adelman Travel case is not by any means the only recent example of state government decisions made amidst suspicious circumstances involving large campaign donations. Nor is it the biggest or arguably the best example. We know the scope of ongoing investigations by federal, state and local law enforcement authorities is much broader than just the state travel contract. What remains to be seen is if these investigations will lead to further criminal charges.