Wednesday, June 28, 2006

DOA Defends Kenilworth Project Process

The Department of Administration is defending the contract awarded to build a dormitory project at UW-Milwaukee, releasing a time line yesterday and saying the project award didn't initially unfold on a level playing field. A top DOA official also said the process is "very different" than the procurement process that has come under fire following the conviction of former DOA employee Georgia Thompson.

The Kenilworth dorm project at UWM has become the subject of a civil lawsuit filed by a group that claims its winning proposal was tossed aside and the project re-bid because it "was not politically popular with the person who made the key decision."

Sean Dilweg, executive assistant to DOA Secretary Steven Bablitch, said the evaluation committee originally awarded the contract to Prism, but the state Building Commission rejected the award because of concerns that Prism was allowed to revise its bid late in the process.

The protest to the Prism award was raised by another bidding group, Cullen-Scion. Prism had originally introduced a mix that was part dormitory, part private apartments.

"After the proposals came in, Prism said they couldn't swing the financing, so they were allowed to change their mix," he said. The project was ultimately awarded to Weas Development, who proposed a dorm-condominium mixed use.

"I think the RFP process has to be a level playing field, and this appears it was not a level playing field," Dilweg said of the first round. "It was decided the only resolution was to have another RFP process where Prism had a chance to re-bid, as did the others."

Dilweg said this process was "very different than the standard procurement process," citing the bipartisan Building Commission, which has the ultimate authority to greenlight the project. The Building Commission approved Weas unanimously, Dilweg points out.

In the standard procurement process, contracts are awarded by an evaluation committee with no oversight from the Building Commission. The commission has authority over all matters involving the buying, selling, leasing or construction of state buildings.

'I think Prism has done a fair job of continuing the case," he said. "They've ramped up their PR machine, and that's their prerogative."


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Suit Filed Over UWM Building Contract

In a civil case filed against the Department of Administration, a partnership formed to bid on UW-Milwaukee's Kenilworth Building project is seeking close to $5 million in damages, according to one of the principals in the case.

Prism claims it was the rightful winners of the bid process for the project, but its winning bid was tossed aside and the project re-bid because Prism "was not politically popular with the person who made the key decision."

Weas Development was ultimately selected for the project. Ken Nelson, a member of the Prism consortium, said it is seeking "in the ballpark of $5 million" from the suit, which was filed last July.

Originally, Prism was put together in 2002 by Curt Gielow, who left the group when he was elected to the state Assembly. Reached by phone today, Gielow said Prism was "gypped" out of the contract. "They stole it from us," he said."We were rightfully selected, and somebody for some reason took it away from us," Gielow said.

At the center of the controversy is former DOA Secretary Marc Marotta, who now serves as Doyle's re-election campaign chairman.

The suit alleges Marotta made the decision to re-bid the project.According to the court filing: "Prism's demise was the result of actions taken at a behind-the-scenes meeting eight days prior to the Building Commission's February 18, 2004, public hearing. In the wake of those actions, former-Secretary Marotta also apparently directed that a second ad hoc RFP process be established for Kenilworth with a new evaluation committee. Four political appointees, two of whom did not even work for the State, were placed on the evaluation committee which eventually selected Weas Development as the winning developer over runner-up Prism. As the record shows, it was former-Secretary Marotta who then considered Prism's appeal of both its abandonment and the subsequent selection of Weas."

Nelson also offers this email between a UW official and DOA official Rob Cramer to show Marotta's role in the process. The email says that the re-bid was being done per Marotta's recommendation.

Marotta was out of the office Monday and could not be reached via cell phone. Doyle's campaign said there are no plans to let go Marotta from his campaign chair position.

The state DOJ has filed motions to dismiss the suit as well as one to strike from Prism's response all evidence regarding the conduct of the RFP process, according to Nelson. A hearing is set for Aug. 4 on the motion to strike. If it is denied, then the state's motion to dismiss will be heard at a later date.The state is being represented by DOJ attorney Dick Braun.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Defense Pushes for Acquittal, New Trial in Thompson Case

Defense counsel for Georgia Thompson, the former Department of Administration employee convicted on two federal fraud charges in connection with a state travel contract, cited a lack of evidence and took aim at some of Judge Rudolph Randa's rulings in a motion filed Monday seeking Thompson's acquittal or a new trial.

Thompson's lawyer, Stephen Hurley, argues in his filing that there was not enough evidence to support Thompson's conviction because no testimony showed influence on Thompson from her superiors to award the contract to a particular vendor, nor was there testimony that showed her bosses actually favored Adelman Travel Group, which was awarded the contract after a best and final offer procedure was used.

Hurley also argues that the prosecution failed to show personal gain on Thompson's behalf and that "at best, the evidence demonstrates a violation of the applicable sections of the Wisconsin Administrative Code" which he says is insufficient to support federal charges.

Hurley further agues that there was no testimony from DOA procurement specialist Dave Webb, who conducted the best and final offer procedure, about Thompson's conduct.

In the filing, Hurley takes issue with Randa's rulings on the admissibility of evidence based on witnesses' perceptions of Thompson's motivation for certain actions. Hurley says "such testimony was premised on speculation and conjecture regarding Georgia Thompson's intent." Hurley cites a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that said "Speculation,'funny' looks, and 'raised eyebrows' are not sufficient to convict people for knowingly participating in a scheme to defraud."

Hurley makes similar arguments in asking for a new trial. He argues testimony by several witnesses, admitted over his objections, was based on speculation and hearsay.

Hurley requested the court allow him 30 days to file a supporting brief, another 30 days for the government to respond and an additional five days to respond to the government's objections.

Read the filing:


Monday, June 19, 2006

Ebert Critical of Jensen While Keeping Him Out of Prison

Former state Rep. Scott Jensen will not go to prison on July 15, as Dane County Judge Steven Ebert had ordered. Instead, the former Republican assembly speaker will be free on $10,000 bond as he and his attorneys appeal his conviction on three felony counts and one misdemeanor. Ebert also upheld as a condition of bail that Jensen not contact or visit the state Capitol.

While Ebert granted the defense motion, he took the opportunity to berate Jensen in court. "This was a breach of the public trust that does demand punishment and closure," he said.

Ebert did acknowledge, however, that Jensen could spend several months in confinement before the court of appeals gets the case, and he didn't feel the state would be harmed if Jensen were allowed to remain free while the process unravels.

"Mr. Jensen, I believe firmly you abused, you violated the public trust that was given to you," Ebert said. "I am however going to grant to the defendant that which I believe he denied to so many other people in this state, including the entire population of this state, and that was a fair opportunity for a level playing field."

Ebert added that Jensen was entitled to due process, a legal term which is hard to define, he said. "I believe the immutable core of due process is fair play. While I think this is a foreign concept to this defendant, I make this the foundation for justice in this courtroom," Ebert said.

Attorney Ryan Stoll did the talking for Jensen's legal team today, arguing that Jensen would be done "irreparable injury" if made to begin serving his 15-month prison sentence in July, because he could serve his entire term before the appeal process can run its course. There are appellate issues that could require a new trial, Stoll said, specifically singling out issues arising from the jury instructions.

"If in fact there was an error in this unprecedented instruction, if in fact there was an error in the trial necessitating a retrial of Mr. Jensen, if he is not granted bond pending appeal, he will be separated from his young family, he will serve his sentence and will be left with an irreparable injustice to him and his family that can never be replaced," Stoll said.

Stoll comes from the Chicago firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Other members of the Jensen legal team in court today were Bob Friebert of Friebert, Finerty & St John in Milwaukee, and his original trial attorney Stephen Meyer of Madison.

Dane County DA Brian Blanchard said in order for the defendant to be claim irreparable harm, he must prove that there is a likelihood of reversal on appeal. "They are simply not able to identify a strong appellate argument, one that would give this court pause in terms of the balance the counsel talks about," Blanchard said.

Ebert said he was not concerned that Jensen will fail to appear in court, or that he will commit any serious crimes while free. But, he said, he was concerned with continued delays. "The entire history of this case seems to be one that involves a significant delay," he said.

Ebert said the jury instructions were proper. "If I believed the jury instructions were incorrect, then obviously I would not have given them" he said. But, he admitted, he cannot predict how the appeals court will see them.

"I've learned over several years not to predict what the court of appeals is going to do," he said, even though he believes Jensen was "convicted based on overwhelming evidence that proved his guilt."

Ebert said he was granting the motion out of a "humanitarian impulse" to keep Jensen's family intact until he exhausts his appeal, and added that it is "ironic that had I imposed a longer period of actual incarceration your argument of irreparable harm would fly out the window."

Following the hearing, Jensen walked to the elevator with his attorneys without making a comment to the press.

The case will now be handled primarily by appellate attorneys with the state Department of Justice, said Blanchard, who has spent years pursuing the case.

"We took our position and I think the judge gave both sides a fair hearing," Blanchard said of the ruling.

Blanchard didn't know what kind of timeline the case is now be on. "It's up to the courts at each stage, the court of appeals and the Supreme Court should they choose to take it. They are not themselves constrained by clocks," he said.


Judge Rules Jensen Can Stay Free During Appeal

Former state Rep. Scott Jensen will be allowed to stay out of prison on a $10,000 bond while he appeals his conviction, after a ruling today by Dane County Judge Steven Ebert.

He had been scheduled to begin serving his sentence July 15.


Hearing Today to Determine if Jensen Remains Free During Appeal

There is much at stake for former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen at his hearing this morning, particularly whether or not he will be allowed to remain a free man while he appeals his conviction on felony charges of misconduct in office.

At the same time, his co-defendant, Sherry Schultz, has begun to serve her four-month home confinement sentence and is on electronic monitoring. She has, however, filed a notice of post-conviction relief with Dane County Judge Steven Ebert. The filing keeps the door open for a possible appeal, according to her lawyer.

"We certainly disagreed all along with many of the rulings that were made prior to and during the trial," said attorney Stephen Morgan. "She has ended up being convicted of a felony, and we want to reserve our rights to appeal that at some point in the future."

Schultz's felony conviction for misconduct in office also carries with it a five-year probation.

Jensen's attorneys are trying to keep their client out of prison until his appeal is settled. They are arguing that his 15-month sentence would likely be completed before the appellate process is over.

The motion hearing in the case is scheduled for today at 10:30 a.m. Jensen is scheduled to report to jail on July 15 if his appeal is unsuccessful.

"If ... Mr. Jensen's conviction is overturned, failure to grant bond pending appeal will be the cause of an irreparable injustice. Nothing can or will ever replace the damage done to Mr. Jensen and his young family," the attorneys wrote.

In a filing earlier this month, Dane County DA Brian Blanchard argued that Jensen "did do violence to the trust necessary to a democratic system of government" and shouldn't be out on the streets.

"While it is more difficult for him to facilitate or participate directly in official misconduct now that he is no longer a public official, his belief that he did nothing wrong represents a risk that he will engage in other fraudulent conduct, because he believes he is entitled to do so," Blanchard wrote.

"The State's suggestion that Mr. Jensen poses a present danger to the community is, to say the least, overreaching," say Jensen's attorneys and "manifests an unfortunately skewed zealousness."

See the Jensen team's filing:

See the Blanchard filing from June 2:

See the Schultz filing:


Monday, June 12, 2006

Bablitch: Thompson Acted on Her Own

DOA Secretary Steve Bablitch met with reporters at the federal courthouse and first read from a statement.

"The jury found in this case that the process was manipulated to benefit a particular bidder," Bablitch said. "Such behavior is incompatible with continued employment at this agency. Anyone convicted of a felony will not work in this administration."

He added there will be a review process but would not make any announcements about it today.

Bablitch said Thompson acted on her own and stressed she was not pressured from anybody else.

"Even the prosecutor said this is Miss Thompson acting on her own and there was not pressure from anybody else," he said.

Bablitch said the bidding process was fair, impartial and fundamentally sound.

"There was no evidence whatsoever that the governor had anything to do with this. I don't think it will harm the governor," he said.


Green: Ban Contributions from Companies Bidding for Contracts

Following the verdict, U.S. Rep Mark Green, the Republican candidate for governor, issued the following statement:

"Last October, I called for a new state law that would prohibit contributions to a governor's campaign while a company is bidding to do state work. Elect me governor, and I will take steps to reassure taxpayers that campaign contributions are not influencing state procurement decisions."

See Green's release:


Doyle: Thompson to Be Fired, No Other State Employee Involved

Statement from Gov. Jim Doyle's office:
"As I have stated before, I have zero tolerance for ethical lapses in government. When public servants abuse the public's trust, they forfeit their rights to continue in the state's employ.

"While I have never met Georgia Thompson, I had, and continue to have, tremendous faith in our state workers, and the men and women who work at the Department of Administration. I had every expectation that the allegations against her would be proven wrong.

"However, as a former prosecutor and Attorney General, I respect our judicial process and the work juries do. In this case, the jury has spoken, and we will take appropriate action.

"Public employees are entrusted with using taxpayer dollars to pursue the public good. At all times, they must take action that falls squarely within the public's interest.

"Obviously when a person is convicted of a crime related to their duties, their employment must be terminated. I have instructed Secretary Bablitch to take swift action to resolve this matter.

"I have been carefully briefed of the testimony at the trial, and from the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense, it is clear that Georgia Thompson acted on her own and that no other state employee was involved."


Biskupic Expects 'Aggressive' Appeal from Defense

Defendant Georgia Thompson stared straight ahead as the guilty verdict was read and seemed distraught as she left the courtroom. Her attorney, Stephen Hurley, ushered her past reporters, and supporters surrounded her as she left the building. One of them chided a camera man, "Shame on you."

Hurley said he had no comment.

U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic said what made this case unique was that no personal gain was alleged for Thompson. Biskupic said that fact made the case "unique" and "difficult."

Biskupic said he would expect Hurley to "aggressively appeal" on that aspect of the case.

The jury deliberated for about four hours.

Thompson faces a maximum of 20 years in prison when sentenced Sept. 22, just more than six weeks out from the general election. But Biskupic predicted she will get far less than the maximum.

He also said he would meet with Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard and Wisconsin Department of Justice Deputy Attorney General Dan Bach later this week to assess the investigation.

But he cautioned against reading anything into that meeting.

Investigators have also been looking at donations Doyle received from executives of companies involved in the sale of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant. The sale was initially rejected by state regulators but later approved after several modifications. Doyle received $41,500 from utility executives shortly after the deal was rejected.

Biskupic said he worked with Blanchard, Bach and former acting U.S. Attorney Steve Sinnott of the Western District, and their joint conclusion was that the charges were warranted.

Biskupic, a GOP appointee, also tried to dispel complaints that the investigation was a partisan attack on the Doyle administration. He said in cases like these "the public needs to be assured it wasn't conducted in a partisan manner."

"The group that investigated this case had no preset agenda," Biskupic said.


Jury Finds Thompson Guilty on Both Counts

A federal jury found Georgia Thompson guilty on two felony counts today for steering a $750,000 state travel contract to a Milwaukee travel company whose executives donated to Gov. Jim Doyle.

Thompson faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced on the two felony fraud counts for causing the misapplication of funds and participating in a scheme to defraud the state of Wisconsin of the right to honest services.


Jury Reaches Verdict in Thompson Trial

The jury in the Georgia Thompson trial has reached a verdict.

It is expected to be announced in federal court in Milwaukee within the next 15 minutes.


Jury Deliberations Continue

Jury deliberations are continuing as of 3 p.m.


Jury Deliberations Begin

After a morning of closing arguments from each side, the case is now in the hands of the jury.

Judge Rudolph Randa denied a government motion to bar two defense exhibits from going to the jury.

Both were related to employee discipline and protections. One manual was never introduced, but the other, a handbook Thompson would have received during training, will go back to the jury.


Biskupic Rebuttal: Proof is in Thompson's Own Words

In his rebuttal, Prosecutor Steven Biskupic told jurors to look at the events of the March 3 meeting and take into account statements attributed to Thompson that suggested she used political considerations in arguing in favor of Adelman.

"The proof is in the defendant's own words," Biskupic said. "If she made these statements then her testimony was a bunch of lies."

Biskupic said jurors need to look at the evidence as a whole and criticized Hurley for pointing out the fact that the witnesses couldn't remember exact words of alleged statements. Biskupic said there will always be differences in witnesses' statements, but that jurors have "evaluate them all together."

"It's the evidence that convicts," Biskupic said. "Her words to the other people on the committee March 3." Biskupic said the witnesses statements regarding political considerations are "not speculation, not suspicions, it's what she said."

Biskupic told the jury it did not have to prove that "someone got to her" and pressured her to favor Adelman, just that she thought the award to Adelman would favor her bosses.

"What a coincidence that it actually did."


Defense: Witness Recall of Key Meeting Unclear

Hurley said there was one thing the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt -- that no one could recall what precisely was said in that March 3, 2005 meeting.

Witnesses testified that Thompson said something about political considerations in regard to the contract, but "nobody remembers the same words," Hurley said.

"They remember not their words, but impressions," he said.

Specifically, Hurley attempted to cast doubt on Ian Thomas' testimony. He said when prosecuting attorneys asked him to repeat what he recalled Thompson saying, Thomas "shifted from side-to-side in his seat."

The night before the meeting, Thompson realized that she had been unfair to Adelman's presenters and graded them on factors not present in the RFP. "She scored style over substance," he said, adding she was afraid the mistake would cause her to have to throw out four years of work.

To describe what happened the next day at the meeting, Hurley said, "I can only quote from Cool Hand Luke, 'What we have here is a failure to communicate.'"

When committee member Lisa Clemmons suggested the best and final offer process to resolve the dispute, "Georgia grabbed that as a lifeline," Hurley admitted.

And, he said, while the meeting was very contentious, the members seemed to be in agreement by the end that the best and final stage should be carried out.

But soon complaints began, and when two commissioners went to Thompson's supervisor Helen McCain to raise their concerns with her, McCain told them to reconvene the committee and air them out.

"But they didn't do that," Hurley said. "What they did was start acting like a high school clique picking on someone who offended them."

As for the interview with WKOW-TV, Hurley said Thompson's statements are consistent with her court testimony. Except, he said, "she had the good sense not to air her suspicions and air her dirty laundry on Channel 27 like the others had."

Concluding his nearly hour-long summation, Hurley strode back to the defense table, where he put his arm on Thompson's shoulder and reminded them of McCain's words. "Georgia Thompson is what all of us should want in a public employee,' he said.


Hurley Defends Scoring Differences

Hurley took time in his presentation to discuss government evidence that showed Thompson's score on Adelman's oral presentation was higher than the others.

Hurley said testimony showed that the others were angry at Adelman for presenting on an online contract for which it was not considered and scored the company lower because of it. Their scores also reflected that they didn't like the presenter, he said. Hurley said the others were using criteria not in the RFP, such as "likeability and the wow factor."

Hurley pointed to several contracts on which one member scored a particular vendor higher that others. Hurley said the government would assert that those people were "up to no good" also.

Hurley suggested that the reality is that scorers each had their own area of expertise and their scores reflected that.

In the case of the partner contract, Hurley said others were concerned about the UW System, but Thompson, who would have to implement the program, was concerned about all the state agencies.

"So she necessarily had a different perspective," Hurley said.


Hurley Says Gov't Investigation Incomplete

Hurley criticized the government for not looking at the whole picture while conducting its investigation. Hurley pointed out that the government introduced phone calls between the DOA and Adelman. But he said they didn't look for evidence of calls between the DOA and other travel agencies.

Hurley told the jury "the government asks you to speculate that Georgia Thompson was directing David Webb's every move," and said the only evidence the government produced was that their cubicles shared a wall.

While the prosecution never brought it up, a best and final step was envisioned from the outset because it was included in the project's charter, Hurley said. And, he said, prosecuting attorneys never asked Lisa Clemmons whether she was in fact the one who suggested the bid go to a best and final offer stage. Instead, they say that Thompson "advocated" that the best and final be evaluated on a cost-only basis, which they alleged would favor Adelman over Omega.

"There is no shred of evidence Georgia advocated for a cost-only best and final," Hurley said.


Defense: 'No Substance, No Proof' for Prosecution Case

Defense Attorney Stephen Hurley didn't mince words when he took to the podium to sum up his case.

"There is a place in the law for common sense," he said emphatically.

When the government charges someone with a crime, it has the burden of proof. He said that in this case, "they have offered no substance, no proof."

All they have provided, is "parts of a case while avoiding the big picture." Their case amounts to witness testimony of what her suspected motives were.

"We can't convict anyone on suspicion and certainly not the suspicion of other people," he said. "There is no proof whatsoever Georgia was told anything by her superiors."


Prosecution Wraps Up Closing Statement; Defense Up Next

After the prosecution took just under an hour to close its case, defense attorney Stephen Hurley is up to argue his side.


Prosecution: Thompson Did Not Make Merit-Based Argument Until Trial

Haanstad said she had the opportunity to step up after the oral presentations and to step up and argue in favor of Adelman based on merit at the March 3 meeting. Haanstad said she didn't do so then or when she gave a TV interview several months later.

After this statement Haanstad replayed a portion of her WKOW interview and said that "it wasn't until she came here to trial that she offered a merit-based reason" to select Adelman.

Haanstad told the jury that when the revised cost proposals came in that the final scores were 0.7 points apart. Haanstad recounted testimony by Thompson where she said she was directed by her boss, Pat Farley, and legal counsel to instruct Dave Webb to count this as a tie. Haanstad then showed a portion of the WKOW tape that seemed to contradict her testimony.

Summing up, Haanstad said that without Thompson's actions, Adelman would not have won the contract.

"Her job was to insulate that process from those political pressures. Instead she manipulated the process and subverted it for those pressures," he said.


Prosecution: Case Comes Down to Credibility

Assistant US Attorney Gregory Haanstad opened the government's closing argument by arguing the case is about a defendant who steered a contract because of "improper political considerations."

Haanstad methodically laid out the case for the nine men and three women in the jury box, who listened attentively and read the PowerPoint presentation on flat-screen monitors mounted before them.

Haanstad said Thompson "manipulated a lucrative state contract to Adelman Travel" when she realized that the business, whose executives had donated money to Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign, would not receive any of the state travel contracts her committee was considering.

Haanstad said Thompson manipulated the process by inflating her scores for Adelman, pressuring others to do so and advocating for a best and final offer process that would take the final evaluation away from the committee. He also said she manipulated the scores of the best and final offer by rounding decimals in favor of Adelman and bending a tie-breaking procedure in the company's favor.

Haanstad said the case comes down to the credibility of witnesses presented by the prosecution vs. Thompson.

The prosecution witnesses corroborate one another's testimony, which is supported by documents, he said. Thompson, he said, has been inconsistent in her explanations of the events over time, from the initial process to the WKOW-TV interview she gave to her court testimony.

"Her version changes over time," Haanstad said.

Haanstad argued that after the oral presentations that Thompson saw the writing on the wall and knew Adelman wouldn't be awarded the partner contract. Haanstad recounted testimony by Ian Thomas. "This is where you're going to have to weigh the credibility of witnesses. Ian Thomas says, 'I don't know how I'm going to tell my bosses it's not Adelman.' Georgia Thompson denied making that statement."

Haanstad said regardless of the exact words used, that those who testified took Thompson to mean she was concerned with the political consequences of not awarding the contract to Adelman.

Haanstad said that Thompson admitted to changing her own score on the athletics travel contract based on "political considerations and criteria not stipulated in the RFP," and that she encouraged others to do the same for Adelman on the partner contract.


Judge Approves Jury Instructions

Judge Rudolph Randa made his final decision on jury instructions in the trial of Georgia Thompson this morning.

Before he made his decision, attorneys in the trial argued for various versions of language to be included. Both sides sparred over the definition of honest services fraud and how it relates to proposal evaluation committees in Wisconsin.

Now that Randa has approved the instructions, closing arguments are set to begin. The prosecution is going first.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Final Decision on Jury Instructions to Come Monday

Prosecution and defense attorneys spent the afternoon hashing out the instructions for the jury, but they couldn't quite come to a complete agreement before quitting for the day.

The attorneys said they were still going back and forth over the definition of honest services fraud.

Once they agree on all aspects of the proposed instructions, they will forward their recommendation to Judge Rudolph Randa and he'll decide on the instructions at a hearing at 8:30 a.m. Monday.


Jurors Sent Home for the Weekend

Randa has sent the jury home until 9 a.m. Monday morning.

After the jury had seen the tape of the TV interview, Biskupic moved a couple more exhibits into evidence, then rested his case. Randa said he expects both the jury instruction conference with the lawyers and the closing arguments to be lengthy. As he dismissed them, Randa told jurors to ignore any media coverage they may see over the weekend.

After a break, the two sides will try to decide on jury instructions.


Judge Allows Jury to See Tape of WKOW Interview

After watching a tape of WKOW reporter Tony Galli interviewing Georgia Thompson, Judge Rudolph Randa ruled that he would allow it to be presented to the jury, but with some instructions.

U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic wanted to use it in his rebuttal, but defense attorney Stephen Hurley objected because he said it contains incorrect information from the reporter and improper questions that ask Thompson to guess what other committee members were thinking. Hurley suggested the problem areas be edited out, then he would withdraw his objection.

Biskupic argued that the jury could be instructed to disregard any questions or statements from the reporter, and to focus on the defendant's answers.

After watching the tape, the judge said there were some misstatements of fact by the interviewer, at least according to the facts as presented at trial. He is instructing the jury that any information on the tape may not be considered as evidence if it conflicts with information heard and seen in the courtroom.

Hurley also wanted it made clear that the third person on the tape was a public information officer for DOA, not one of Thompson's lawyers. The judge made that part of his instructions to the jury.

The jurors are watching the tape on small, flat-screen TVs mounted in front of each of their seats.


Defense Rests; Prosecution Plans Rebuttal

Once Hardiman finished his testimony, the defense rested its case.

Biskupic has said he will have a brief rebuttal. First there will be a lunch break until 1:35 p.m.

As he was leaving the courtroom, Biskupic said he anticipates showing the jury the WKOW-TV interview with Georgia Thompson. He said, however, there is a defense objection to it.


Defense Witness Says Thompson Set Up 'Collaborative Environment'

The defense has decided to call one more witness, Mike Hardiman, director of purchasing services at UW-Madison.

Hardiman worked with Thompson on a different committee in 2003-04, and had five meetings with her. He said that Thompson set up Òa very collaborative environmentÓ in the meetings.

In cross, Biskupic asked approximately how many hours those five meetings totaled. Hardiman said about 12. He also said he and Thompson have not worked together since, and they don't socialize.


Witness Testifies About Civil Service Protections from Political Pressure

Next up is Michael Soehner, who works in the Office of State and Employee Relations. He will testify that according to state law and administrative regulations, as well as Thompson's good performance evaluations, she could not have been disciplined or terminated except for just cause. The prosecution has tried to establish that Thompson rigged bids on the travel contract for partisan political reasons and to benefit her employment status.

In direct examination, Hurley asked Soehner what would happen if a political appointee tried to pressure a civil servant into fixing a bidding process. If the employee resisted, it would not be considered "just cause" for punishing or firing the civil servant, Soehner said.

However, Soehner said, if the employee did cave in to the pressure and fix the process, that would be considered just cause for termination.

Hurley asked what would happen if a civil servant was fired because they refused to cooperate with the appointee. "I'd tell them they might as well hire them back because the arbitrator is going to put them back to work anyway," Soehner answered.


Biskupic Plans Short Rebuttal, If Any

Asked during a break in the trial if he will mount a rebuttal, U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic answered "If there is it'll be very short."


McCain Talks About Political Pressure in Previous State Job

Under redirect, Hurley asked McCain if in her years of working in state government she'd ever felt pressured by a higher-up political employee to steer anything a certain way. She recalled that when she was in the Department of Development, which then oversaw the Department of Tourism, there was a much sought-after advertising contract up for bid.

She remembered there were "clearly some desires on the part of certain persons," but the agency involved did not get the contract.

Then McCain put a finer point on it. "I never had anyone for whom I have worked come to me and say, 'Helen, this has to happen.' That's never happened."


McCain: Committee Member Was Concerned About Travel Contract

Under cross, McCain agreed that it would be improper for a person to suggest others change scores on non-merit based reasons. McCain agreed it would violate rules if a person who favored a specific vendor pushed an RFP to a best and final offer stage to give that vendor another chance.

Prosecutor Scott Campbell asked her questions repeatedly to show she did not know the specifics of the of the March 3 meeting.

McCain recounted a conversation with Nettesheim, who came to her with concerns over the contract award. McCain said Nettesheim told her Thompson said the Omega award "wouldn't fly politically."

McCain said she was concerned about that, but said such a comment "could have meant a lot of different things, none of them good."

After receiving an e-mail from Nettesheim's boss, UW System Associate Vice President for Financial Administration Doug Hendrix, that said further information on concerns about the contract would "come from higher levels," she thought the concerns were being dealt with.

McCain disagreed that she intended to look further into the partner contract when she moved from the UW System to DOA in April 2005. Prior to that move, McCain was director of purchasing at the UW System.

McCain reiterated that she thought it was being handled and added, "like you said, I was not privy to everything that was in that meeting."


McCain Discusses DOA-UW System Tension

McCain highlighted the tension between the DOA and the UW System. McCain said the university often has special procurement needs and due to the volume of purchasing they engage in, that universities feel they can get a better deal using university consortium than by buying through the state. "They are not always thrilled" to be tied to the state, McCain said.

She said committee member Bridget Nettesheim approached her about her concerns with the partner travel RFP process, and the fact it was going to a best and final offer. "She felt it might be illegal," McCain said. Nettesheim said committee members told her they felt pressured into changing their scores, and that the contract was being directed to a particular vendor.

McCain told the concerned commissioners to request another meeting with the committee to put the issues on the table or put their concerns in writing. The meeting never took place.

McCain said she is the one who proposed the raise for Thompson, based on the difficult projects she had taken on and the long hours she dedicated to her job.

McCain said Thompson was "person of high integrity" who is a committed and hard worker.

"She is exactly what we folks should want in a state employee," McCain said.


Purchasing Director Discusses Scoring Rules

In Milwaukee today, the first witness of the fifth day of the Georgia Thompson trial is Helen McCain, director of state purchasing for the Department of Administration. She has worked in state government for 31 years. McCain will testify that state regulations encourage RFP evaluators to discuss their scores and that the rules permit and often encourage change of scores after discussion, according to an earlier filing from defense attorney Stephen Hurley.

The purpose of procurement and the RFP process is to "get the best value" for the state "because we're using taxpayer money," McCain said.

With prompting from Hurley, McCain discussed a hypothetical situation in which one evaluator's score for a vendor is significantly lower than the scores from other evaluators. She said it is appropriate for committee members to discuss their scores to figure out reasons for discrepancies.

McCain said members are allowed to ask others if they'd like to change their scores, but may not direct others to do so.

"You can't ask if they'd like to change their score - you can not direct anyone to change their score because (evaluators) are all equal," she said.

McCain said evaluators are permitted to go back and change scores on the written portion based on information obtained in the oral presention.

She also said evaluators are supposed to grade vendors on substance, not style. "You should score them based on whay they're showing you. You're not there to evaluate a vendor's personality, you're there to evaluate what they're presenting," she said.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Judge Disallows Some Defense Expert Testimony

As the federal "bid-rigging" trial of DOA civil servant Georgia Thompson entered its fourth day, Judge Rudolph Randa made a qualified ruling on a government motion to strike some expert defense witness testimony.

Randa said some of the opinions the experts were to give have already been heard by the court and would be "cumulative" and wouldn't aid the jury.

However, the judge said he would allow Helen McCain from the Bureau of Procument to testify on whether it is appropriate to move an RFP to a best and final offer stage when there is a point spread of 21 points.


Closing Statements Could Come Monday

At the end of today's session, Judge Rudolph Randa said if the defense hadn't wrapped up its case by noon, he was inclined to let the two sides give their closing statements on Monday.

Defense attorney Stephen Hurley indicated he'd have two witnesses tomorrow, Michael Soehner, who works in the Office of State Employee Relations, and Helen McCain, the director of purchasing in the Bureau of Procurement at the DOA.

Prosecutor Steven Biskupic said that he has not decided if the state will mount a rebuttal case.


Doyle Donor Says He Never Expected State Business In Return for Support

After nearly seven hours of testimony from defendant Georgia Thompson, the defense took less than seven minutes to question their second witness, Marathon Travel and Cruise owner John Noel.

Noel, of Stevens Point, and his family have given nearly $30,000 to Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign since 2002, and he served on a state board, the Economic Growth Council, appointed by Doyle. Noel's company also bid on the state travel contracts.

Hurley asked if Noel ever expected or received any quid pro quo from the governor for his support. He answered no, he hadn't.


Thompson Explains Score Changes

Under re-direct, Thompson said she changed her scores on the oral presentations to correct for her judging based on style over substance.

Thompson said at the March 3 meeting that "no one clearly indicated to me at the meeting that they scored on style over substance." Thompson said she wouldn't accuse someone of improper conduct based on her suspicions.

Hurley asked Thompson why several contracts didn't go to the best and final offer stage. For most she indicated that they were contracts for specialty areas that had special service needs.

When asked about the partner contract Thompson said "if there ever was an example of when a best and final offer should be done, this is it."

Under re-cross, Biskupic asked Thompson about a spreadsheet that showed Adelman and Omega were tied. Biskupic noted that because Omega was scored a few decimal points higher, that it was listed above Adelman. He then asked Thompson why when the spreadsheet was passed up the chain, it was changed to list Adelman first.

Thompson replied that "it would have been Dave Webb" who changed them. She denied knowing that this happened and said "he could have been alphabetizing them."


Prosecutor Asks Thompson About WKOW Interview

Defendant Georgia Thompson was also questioned in cross about an October 2005 interview with WKOW-TV in Madison. The prosecutor asked about comments she made to the reporter that indicated she had acted as an advocate for Adelman, and questions the reporter asked about the travel agency's contributions to the governor.

She claimed her recollection was hazy. "I was asked a number of questions in a very short time and it was a long time ago," Thompson said.

See the interview


Prosecutor Questions Thompson's Story on Reconsidering Adelman Scores

Prosecutor Steven Biskupic opened his cross-examination by immediately tearing into Thompson's explanation that she asked committee members to reconsider their scores because she felt they had been treated unfairly.

He asked if on March 2, the day before the final scores were revealed, she had known that her fellow commissioners had treated Adelman unfairly, and that it had affected their scores. "I had it in my mind that it was possible," she said.

He asked the question several ways, and each time Thompson calmly said she did not know that the comissioners had downgraded Adelman on style rather than substance, but she suspected it because of negative comments she heard about the Adelman presenters.

"I think they perhaps scored more on emotion" than substance, she said.

Biskupic asked if that's why she asked the others to change their scores.

"I didn't ask people to change scores. I asked them if they wanted to reconsider their scores," she said. "I would have been content if they would have had the discussion."

Biskupic also questioned her about testimony by Ian Thomas, a consultant who worked with the committee. Thomas told the jury that he had a conversation with Dave Webb shortly before the March 3 meeting and informed Webb that Adelman had lost out on the contract. He said Webb's reaction was "Georgia's going to be upset."

Biskupic asked if Thompson had ever expressed a preference for Adelman to Webb, who worked in a cubicle next to her. She said she hadn't.

Thomas also alleged that Thompson told him that Pat Farley was "well-connected to the governor," and that Farley served on the governor's election committee. She denied saying it.

"When he attributed that to you, that's completely false?" asked Biskupic.

"Yes," said Thompson.

"You had no idea of Mr. Farley's political activities?" he asked.

"Correct," she responded.


Cross-examination Set to Begin

After five hours with defendant Georgia Thompson on the stand, the defense finished questioning her shortly before 3 p.m. After a short break, the prosecution's cross-examination is due to start.


Thompson Breaks Down While Describing Scoring Process

Georgia Thompson broke down this morning as she recounted for jurors her realization that she and other members of the travel contract evaluation committee rated Adelman Travel company more on their presentation than the substance of their offer.

The night before the members were to turn over their score sheets, Thompson said she went through and recalculated her numbers. It was then she realized that three days of committee members trashing the Adelman presentation had negatively affected her score. Thompson said she and other commissioners complained about the Adelman presenters' "abrasive" and "pushy" manner, and that they used much of their time pitching for an online travel contract they weren't even eligible for. She said, however, that judging a potential contract on criteria outside the RFP is a violation of state regulations.

As a consumer, she said, if you don't like a salesperson's personality, you can choose a different store. It doesn't work that way with the state, she said, as she broke into tears.

"In government, you can't say that. You can't say you don't like the presenter," she said. "You can not score them on whether you liked them or not."

Thompson said she adjusted her score, and the next day at the committee meeting asked the other members if they wanted to reconsider their marks.

"Everyone said no," she said. "Everyone stated that Omega was the clear winner."

Thompson testified that she continued to pursue her point until a coffee break was called. During the break, she was approached by her supervisor Pat Farley, who told her that the employee she had been working on a disciplinary action with for a year had agreed to retire.

Hurley asked if that wasn't a happy occasion.

"It meant I had to do all her work," said Thompson, choking up again as she did so. She also said that part of the employee's "separation agreement" included a retroactive promotion to a higher pay grade. "I thought it was a promotion she wasn't entitled to," Thompson said, wiping away tears.

Hurley asked if Farley had mentioned Adelman Travel or the contract process during their discussion. She said no.

When she returned to the meeting her demeanor had changed, Thompson said, acknowledging the testimony from prosecution witnesses. She said she was facing a meeting with Woodke at the end of the day in which she had to sign retirement documents. "I was upset - very upset," she said.

"I was also angry that they were so locked in on Omega and they couldn't give me a reason," she said. "I lost my composure."

She said she was considering going through legal channels to stop the procurement of the partner contract based on the unfairness of the bid scoring. When commissioner Lisa Clemmons mentioned that the bid should go to a best and final offer phase, Thompson agreed, seeing it as a solution to the problem.

In earlier testimony, prosecution witnesses said Thompson brought up at the meeting that she changed her score on the travel contract for university athletics. The witnesses said they thought she was looking for reciprocation for that on the Adelman bid, but Thompson said the reason she brought it up was because she was trying to illustrate to members that scores can change when new information comes to light.

She said during discussions for the athletics contract, she learned about the difference between NCAA team travel rules and requirements for Division 1-A schools. She said that changed her score for the vendors.


Thompson: 'I'm Not a Political Person'

Thompson said she votes "sometimes," does not belong to a political party, and does not have bumper stickers on her car.

"I'm not a political person," she said.

She also said her contact with former DOA Secretary Marc Marotta was limited to quarterly department meetings, chance meetings in the elevator, and a presentation she gave to him and Gina Frank-Reese in the secretary's office. Their offices were four floors apart, and they were also separated by several management levels.

"I didn't know Marc Marotta,' she said.

Thompson said she told Marotta during the presentation the state could save $4.1 million per year with the proposed travel program. She said Marotta was "excited" by the presentation and the savings, and the program was greenlit shortly after her presentation.


Thompson Recounts Stressful Work Environment

With Georgia Thompson's testimony, the defense is trying to portray her as a public official under tremendous strain because of a demanding workload, staffing shortages within her department and unpopular programs she was in charge of implementing.

Thompson told the jury that during the time of the state travel contract there were several positions below and above her that were vacant as the state faced a deficit of over $3 billion.

She said she was working on several state programs at the time, including implementing a state travel card and fuel card, and reducing the state's fleet by 1,000 vehicles. In addition to this she said she was working on an employee discipline problem and conducting over 70 interviews in an attempt to fill a vacant position.

When trying to reduce the state's vehicle fleet, Thompson said she had to send out teams to get vehicles agencies wouldn't turn over so she could put them on the auction block. Thompson said she received letters, phone calls and e-mails from legislators, union reps and other officials with issues regarding this and other programs.

Thompson said people were also resistant to using the travel and fuel cards because they could not collect the frequent flyer miles they would have in the past using personal cards, conduct Thompson said was "unethical."

Thompson described her workload as the source of the pressure she told Ian Thomas about during a conversation. She described her work as stressful and said "you get to a point where you question your own productivity" and that she worked long hours to keep up with the work.

She was also encouraged by supervisors to save money. "They were reaching out for ideas that would help save money and we were encouraged to do more with less," she said.

All of the programs she was trying to implement caused "pushback" from various agencies, according to Thompson. Thompson said she tried to deal with those pushing back by "accommodating them, working with them," and trying to meet them "halfway."

Thompson said the public sector was different from the private sector because when the state implements a program, many agencies refuse to cooperate. Thompson said there is a "degree of resistance to any change" in the public sector.

The last time an attempt was made to implement a state travel program was 12 years before, Thompson said. That attempt was met with considerable "pushback" from state employees, although it was optional at the time. This time the program would be mandatory, and she expected a lot of resistance.

"People take their travel plans very personally," she explained.

Thompson said the UW System, particularly the Madison campus, was a major source of pushback. Thompson said Madison, due to its size, "would take a harder stance" on what they would or wouldn't do regarding the implementation of various state programs. Thompson said there was "animosity between the university and the Department of Administration."

Thompson said the state's annual travel purchasing program is about $12 million, far less than corporate giants she dealt with in the private sector. General Electric, for instance, had a travel purchase program of more than $500 million when she worked with them in private agencies. Because of the state's small budget for travel, she didn't expect large travel providers to respond to the state's proposal.

She was also concerned the consolidation effort would hurt some small travel agencies, perhaps putting some out of business. This repercussion was discussed within the RFP development and contract evaluation committee, she said, and it was determined to go ahead with the program despite that.


Thompson Called as First Defense Witness

Georgia Thompson took the stand in her own defense this morning, as the first witness called by the defense in her bid-rigging trial.

Thompson recounted her background in the travel business, working more than 25 years in Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

In 2001, the Madison native returned home to a job as chief of the transportation travel division in the DOA, which was eliminated and moved into the Bureau of Procurement in July 2003. She told Hurley she took a $32,000 pay cut when she moved into the public sector.

Thompson said her designation as a "career executive" insulated her from appointed officials and that she could only be fired for just cause. Thompson said her designation protected her from having her salary reduced and the worst action a superior could take against her without cause would be to move her to another department.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hurley Says Doyle, Marotta Won't Be Called to Testify

Steve Hurley, defense attorney for DOA employee Georgia Thompson, said this afternoon that although he included Gov. Jim Doyle and former DOA Secretary Marc Marotta on a pre-trial list of "potential witnesses and involved persons," he does not plan to call them to testify.

Hurley made the remarks after trial action concluded for the day. The prosecution, led by U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic, rested its case today, leaving the defense to begin making its case when the trial resumes tomorrow morning.

The trial resumes tomorrow at 8:30 a.m., when the judge is set to rule on prosecution motions to limit the defense's use of expert witnesses.

See the defense filing on expert witnesses:

See the prosecution motion to strike expert witness testimony:


Galli Removed from Witness List as WKOW Hands in Interview Tape

WKOW posted its entire interview with Thompson on its Web site today and struck a deal with the defense before turning over a copy that Thompson lawyers had subpoenaed, news director Al Zobel said.

Thompson had listed WKOW reporter Tony Galli, who broke the story about questions surrounding the Adelman contract, as a potential witness. Zobel said the defense agreed to drop Galli from its witness list in exchange for a copy of the tape. Zobel said making the entire interview public on the station Web site took care of his ethical dilemma over being compelled to turn it over. But he still didn't like it.

"I was unhappy as a journalist I was compelled to turn over a video I didn't think I should," he said.

The deal allows Galli to cover the trial. He had been pulled off earlier this week after he was subpoenaed.

See the unedited video:


Hurley Argues Prosecution Charts Misleading

Defense attorney Steve Hurley picked apart a series of charts compiled by FBI agent Terry Sparacino and designed to show how Thompson's scores on oral presentations for Adelman and Omega differed from those of other committee members.

Hurley asked Sparacino why he decided to focus only on the oral presentation portion.

"I just made that determination," replied Sparacino.

Sparacino testified that the charts he used did not show how individual evaluators ranked Adelman and Omega on other areas besides oral presentations.

"Is there any reason you didn't want to point out the differences between the other evaluators?" asked Hurley.

Hurley criticized another chart that pitted the committee's average score against Thompson's. Sparacino agreed there was wide variance in the scores of the other evaluators.

"Why did you decide to average all the other evaluators?" asked Hurley.

Hurley picked apart two other charts that he insinuated were poorly labeled and potentially misleading and had Sparacino label each portion.

Hurley also poked holes in the government's phone call list. He asked Sparacino if in his investigation he was able to discern the content of the calls.

"Absolutely not," Sparacino answered.

Hurley also asked whether during the investigation they tried to obtain a phone log for Thompson as part of their open records request to the DOA. "Do you recall getting the phone records for Georgia Thompson," he asked.

"I do not," Sparacino replied.

Hurley also established that like Adelman, the owners of another travel business bidding for the contracts, Marathon Travel of Stevens Point, made donations to Doyle's campaign. He questioned why investigators had not provided that information to the jury.

Next he turned his attention to the prosecution's discussion of a raise Thompson received in June 2005, showing a letter listing the pay boost as 50 cents an hour.

"Is the implication she sold her soul for 50 cents an hour?" Hurley asked. Biskupic objected on grounds the question was argumentative, and Randa sustained his objection.


FBI Agent Reveals Phone Contact Between Adelman, DOA

On the day that the Department of Administration notified bidders that the travel contract would move to a "best and final offer" stage, four phone calls were exchanged between Adelman Travel and Department of Administration officials, according to a phone log gathered by the FBI.

FBI agent Terry Sparacino discovered in the investigation that a call was made on March 10, 2005 from Adelman offices to the office of DOA purchasing official David Webb. Webb was also overseeing the evaluation committee and the best and final bid procedure. The call came in at 5:30 p.m. and lasted nearly six minutes, according to Sparacino.

The next morning at 10 a.m., a call was made from the DOA secretary's office to the Adelman office, lasting three minutes. At 11:14 a.m., a 39-second call from Adelman was made to the secretary's office.

Then, at 11:22 a.m., a call was made again from the secretary's office to Adelman. This one lasted seven minutes.

Biskupic said there was no record turned up of calls between DOA and Omega.

On March 30, Webb notified the committee members that Adelman had won the contract.

Biskupic also entered into the record an exhibit detailing the bonus Thompson received on June 10, 2005.

He went on to display an invitation to Adelman Travel's 20th Anniversary celebration on July 20, 2005. The invite touts Gov. Jim Doyle as a featured guest speaker.


FBI Documents: Thompson Only Committee Member to Favor Adelman's Oral Presentation

Biskupic produced a series of documents showing summaries Sparacino gathered during the investigation of the evaluators' scores.

Among the facts he pointed out was that Adelman's bid was only about $7,500 less than Omega's bid, $277,537 to $285,294.

Another showed the jury a comparison of evaluators' scores for the oral presentation. On Thompson's sheet, Adelman's presentation outscored the competition by 25 points. On all the other evaluators' sheets, Adelman was behind the top scorer by an average of 39 points.

Another document displayed by Biskupic was a breakdown of committee members' results on oral presentations for partner, group and business travel contracts. Thompson had them ranked first on all three -- no other evaluator had them as the top-ranked company for any of the three.

The prosecution produced a spreadsheet used by Webb to indicate a tie between Adelman and Omega after revised cost scores for the partner contract were entered in. The document only reflected the whole number score in the field, with both at 1027.

Sparacino testified that if the spreadsheet reflected reflected decimal places that Omega would have outscored Adelman by 0.7 points.


FBI Agent Next on the Stand

After a lunch break and a brief redirect and recross of Gill, the state has called FBI special agent Terry Sparacino.


Hurley Questions Gill's Motivations

In his cross-examination, Hurley showed the jury Gill's scores for the partner contract. He noted that she scored Adelman highest overall, but when Omega was picked by a consensus of the members, she didn't object and fight for Adelman.

"Was Omega paying you off?" asked Hurley.

"No!" answered Gill incredulously.

"Did someone tell you you should be pushing for Omega?" he asked.

"We were asked as a committee who we wanted - it wasn't a bad thing for (Omega) to be awarded the contract," she answered.

Gill also testified that Thompson was not acting like herself during a meeting in March. Gill referenced Webb and Thompson and said "I believe they were both being told what to do."

Hurley followed: "Is this strictly your surmise?"


"Is this strictly your suspicion?"



Another Committee Member Recalls Disappointment with Adelman Presentation

The next witness is Terri Gill, travel manager for UW and member of the travel contract evaluation committee.

Gill echoed Clemmons' statement that she was "disappointed" with the Adelman proposal. She said the proposed account manager spent "too much time competing for something they were not in the running for," the online contract. She also said she didn't "click" with the account manager, who she said she'd have to work closely with.

When the evaluation committee computed the partner contract scores and Omega was on top, Gill remembers Thompson's reaction was "it couldn't work out like this." She said she took that to mean Thompson was saying the contract had to go to Adelman.

Gill said she was not surprised when Adelman was ultimately awarded the contract. "I knew it was coming," she said, again echoing Clemmons. "I assumed it would work out this way."


UW Employee Says She Suggested Final Bidding Stage

Under cross examination, Clemmons said she was the one who suggested the partner contract be put out for a best and final offer. She said she wanted the top scorers to come in and redo their presentations and suggested they be re-evaluated on the service aspect of their proposals.

That undercuts one of the prosecution's contentions that Thompson manipulated the evaluation process with the best and final offer stage to push the contract to Adelman.

Hurley also suggested in his questioning that Clemmons went into the evaluation process with a bias toward a company that eventually won a separate contract for UW athletics travel.

Clemmons said she was unaware that she was the only one who scored Worldtek Travel No. 1 in all categories for the athletics travel contract. The company already had a contract with UW athletics. Hurley pointed to an e-mail which Clemmons sent to all committee members except Thompson and Webb. In it, she wrote she should be happy with the outcome because "Athletics got what it wanted."

Today, Clemmons said that meant, "We got WorldTek."


Defense Challenges Purchasing Agent's Testimony

In his cross, defense attorney Steve Hurley challenged UW purchasing agent Lisa Clemmons for saying that in the procurement process, price is a second consideration to service. He produced a copy of the state procurement manual, pointing to a passage that states that in competitive contract bidding "price is always a major consideration."

"I wouldn't say it's a major consideration," Clemmons replied.

Hurley also revisited Clemmons' statement under direct testimony that Thompson said the contract had to go to a Wisconsin company. He had her read back her testimony at the grand jury on Jan. 10, where Clemmons was asked the same question but made no mention of that comment from Thompson.

Hurley tried to paint Clemmons "disappointment" with the Adelman account manager as a "personality issue," which Clemmons stated in her grand jury testimony.

Clemmons said her score for Adelman reflected that their presentation leaned too much toward the online travel aspect, but added "I took into consideration (the account manager's) personality."

Sparks flew on a few occasions during the cross, as in an exchange when Hurley said the 20 point difference between the Omega and Adelman contracts represented less than 2 percent of the overall possible score of 1200.

"That's pretty darn close, isn't it?" Hurley asked Clemmons.

"It's not a tie," Clemmons rebutted.

"I didn't ask you if it was a tie, I asked if it was close," Hurley said.

"Yes," said Clemmons.

Hurley asked if after Clemmons saw the results of the best and final offer she thought the process was "fixed."

"I did not think it was fixed. I thought there was going to be something done to change the the scores," she said.


Thompson Trial Resumes

The Georgia Thompson trial continued today with the prosecution calling Lisa Clemmons, a purchasing agent for the University of Wisconsin and a member of the evaluation committee for state travel contracts.

Assistant US Attorney Greg Haanstad began by asking her about the RFP evaluation process and what's at stake in the process. Clemmons said "service is extremely important with this type of contract," especially when dealing with UW Athletics, where violations could lead to ineligibility of athletes, affecting UW's bottom line.

Clemmons said she was "disappointed" with Adelman's oral presentation on the partner contract and said the account manager assigned by Adelman "was not someone who impressed me."

Prior to that, Adelman had contracted with the UW for many years. Clemmons said the two parties "had a great working relationship."

Clemmons said when the commissioners met, a "general sense of disappointment" was expressed. She said commissioner Terri Gill indicated she was "disappointed" in Adelman's proposed account manager. She recalled Thompson saying the person was "OK."

When the commissioners were asked if they approved of Omega receiving the contract, Clemmons said "Georgia was not fine with Omega."

Clemmons said she recalled Thompson saying, "This is not acceptable. It has to be a Wisconsin company."

Clemmons said the other commissioners were in disbelief.

"We'd worked so hard and spent so much time, the six of us were happy with Omega," she said.

-Greg Bump


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Defense Tries to Shoot Down Ties Between Thompson and Doyle/Marotta

Prosecutors tried to establish connections between Gov. Jim Doyle's office, the Department of Administration and Adelman Travel today to bolster its argument that there was an atmosphere that made it clear to Georgia Thompson that Adelman was the preferred vendor for the contract.

But defense attorney Steve Hurley tried to shoot down any connections between Thompson and those involved in those contacts, pointing out the e-mails, public schedules and meeting notes produced by the prosecution were not found in Thompson's files.

DOJ special agent Helen Wasmer read from documents while on the stand this afternoon showing those contacts between Adelman and state officials. That includes a June 2004 meeting in which Adelman lobbied DOA officials to consider consolidating the state's travel contracts. Adelman officials told the state that to make it work, a consolidated travel program would have to be mandated by the state, according to Wasmer's testimony.

She also testified Adelman officials indicated they were prepared to bid for the work and believed submitting a request for proposal to gather competing bids would be a "waste of time."

In his cross of Wasmer, defense attorney Hurley criticized an organizational chart produced by the prosecution that suggested Thompson was five positions removed from Doyle. Wasmer agreed with Hurley's assertion there were many more people between Thompson and Doyle.

Hurley also suggested in his questions that Thompson was far removed from Marotta's office, and he flipped through the documents Wasmer read from and asked if copies were found in Thompson's files. She replied "no" each time.

-- By David A. Wise


WKOW Hopes to Avoid Turning Over Tape

Madison TV station WKOW is looking for a way to quash a federal subpoena ordering it to turn over the unedited tape of its interview with defendant Georgia Thompson from last fall.

News director Al Zobel is supposed to appear in Milwaukee tomorrow at 2 p.m. to turn over the video, which he considers akin to a reporter's notes. He believes the station has journalistic privilege.

"The attorneys are trying to look for that one leg we can stand on to try to quash it," Zobel said. "But right now, they're advising me to turn it over."

WKOW reporter Tony Galli broke the story last fall that Doyle received donations from Adelman executives shortly before and after the contract took effect. He continued to report various angles of the story and scored a one-on-one interview with Thompson.

He is also on the defense witness list, though he is contemplating refusing to testify if called.

"On principle, I believe a journalist should have a certain level of privilege to ensure the free flow of information," Galli said.

-- By JR Ross


Committee Member 'Offended' By Thompson Questions

Committee member Frank Kooistra said he was "very upset" and "offended" when Thompson asked committee members if any of them wanted to change their scores after final scores were calculated.

Kooistra said he was angry because the committee had already put in hours of hard work. Kooistra said he was very concerned about service and felt that the state's effort to consolidate travel contracts would result in a loss of service. He testified service was the primary concern for him in the process.

Kooistra described the oral presentations as the only way to judge service outside of the written portion of the RFP. Kooistra described Adelman's proposal as a "very cold, formal presentation that didn't engage the selection committee."

Kooistra said he felt the best and final offer process was used due to "some other reason" than cost and testified "I think it was used to select Adelman."

While he did not support going to a best and final offer phase, he also wasn't opposed to it.

-- By David A. Wise


Committee Member: Thompson Request Not Appropriate

A member of the evaluation committee Thompson headed testified she felt it wasn't appropriate for Thompson to ask members if they wanted to change their scores for Adelman and believed a best and final offer was not necessary.

"I felt at this point our scores were set," Bridget Nettesheim said. "We did what we had to do."

Nettesheim said when it appeared Adelman competitor Omega had won the partner travel contract, Thompson said words to the effect that it "wouldn't fly politically," causing her some concern. She said she talked to her boss, who also expressed concern about the statement.

Nettesheim agreed with a line of questions by the prosecution that Thompson had made no merit-based claims as to why Adelman should be favored for the contract.

Under cross examination, Nettesheim testified she was concerned that Adelman was allowed to make an oral presentation about a separate contract for on-line sales even though it was not in the running for it.

Hurley suggested in his questioning that members were annoyed that Adelman was allowed to make the presentation and intentionally marked down the company's score for the partner contract because of it. Nettesheim said it affected her scores in that she had less to evaluate Adelman on for the partner contract. She said she felt other people's scores reflected that as well.

Nettesheim said she and others were "frustrated" that Adelman presented on the online portion, calling it "a waste of time."

-- By David A. Wise


Selection Committee's Nettesheim Next on the Stand

During a short re-cross after an hour-long break, defense attorney Stephen Hurley asked Thomas if he remembered Thompson specifically saying the contract needed to go to Adelman or whether she was referring generally to a local company.

Thomas said he did not and agreed there was a material difference between the two wordings.

The government has called to the stand Bridget Nettesheim, who served on the selection committee with Thompson.

The defense referred to an interview with Nettesheim in one of its pre-trial filings, arguing that her stated belief that there were "political reasons" behind a statement by Thompson was an example of testimony that should not be allowed at trial. Judge Randa denied the motion yesterday.

-- By David A. Wise


Consultant Testifies Thompson Changed Score 'For a Favor'

Thomas testified under re-direct that when Thompson changed her score for a vendor seeking a state athletic travel contract, "she did it for a favor." The prosecution seems to be trying to undercut Hurley's contention that Thompson had a legitimate reason for changing her score on the athletic travel vendor.

The prosecution began its re-direct of Thomas before the court broke for an hour-long lunch break. He was expected to remain on the stand after the court reconvened at 1:35 p.m.


Consultant Says Discussion, Change of Scores Appropriate

Travel contract consultant Ian Thomas testified this morning it was appropriate to discuss scores in the evaluation process and change them after talking to other people on the committee.

Responding to questions from Georgia Thompson attorney Steve Hurley, Thomas agreed that the scoring process was subjective and it was appropriate for evaluators to change scores as they learned more.

Thomas had previously testified that he believed Thompson favored Adelman in the process because of her "superiors and political issues," citing various comments he testified she made.

Hurley pressed Thomas for details on those comments, and the consultant said he was unsure of the specific words Thompson used and whether she was referring to Adelman specifically.

Prosecutors have accused Thompson of inflating her score for a vendor favored by members of the evaluation committee for an athletic travel contract in an attempt to persuade them to support Adelman for a separate deal.

Hurley insisted Thompson changed her score on that contract because she discussed the unique needs of the UW Athletic Department with one of its representatives and decided to change her score based on that conversation. Hurley argued she was justified in making that switch.

-- By David A. Wise


Travel Consultant Still on Stand to Start Second Day

The second day of the Georgia Thompson trial starts with travel contract consultant Thomas still testifying, being questioned by a prosecution attorney about the contract process.

Thomas testified that after a tie was declared in the first two phases of the bidding process, economic benefit to the state was used as a tie-breaking criterion, which he disagreed with because he thought it was a difficult factor to quantify.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Thompson Cited 'Superiors and Political Issues' in Urging Commissioners to Change Scores, Witness Says

Travel contract consultant Ian Thomas testified that Georgia Thompson urged commissioners to change their scores after Omega Travel came out on top of a request for proposal for a state travel contract, and that she referenced "political issues" as a reason.

Thomas worked with the committee on how to structure the evaluation process of the RFPs. Thomas, under questioning by the prosecution, testified that after the final scores were calculated for the partner travel contract, Omega had beaten Adelman Travel.

Thomas testified that Thompson said either "You can't do that" or "That can't be done," and that Thompson talked about the need for the contract to be granted to Adelman because "she referenced in some way her superiors and political issues."

Thomas said that Thompson requested the commissioners to re-evaluate their scores, offering as justification that she had changed one of her scores on a travel contract to satisfy the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department. Thomas said he didn't recall that Thompson listed cost savings as a reason to change their scores.

-- By David A. Wise


In Opening Statements, Biskupic and Hurley Debate Thompson Motives

In his opening statement Biskupic said Thompson's responsibility was to act as the "separation of the political influence from the awarding of public dollars," and said Thompson had a duty to be "fair and impartial" in that capacity.

The government asserted that Thompson "believed Adelman was the political choice" and that her alleged criminal manipulation of the bidding process began when she realized Adelman wouldn't win any of the contracts it bid for. Biskupic said Thompson's actions took Adelman from a "runner-up to a winner."

Biskupic mentioned a witness who recalled Thompson saying that "My bosses want Adelman. They don't want to hear that anybody but Adelman wins that contract," during a discussion of the bid scores after Adelman placed second. Biskupic mentioned another witness who recalled that Thompson said Omega "wouldn't fly politically."

Biskupic said that once the process moved to the best and final offer phase the "rules were ignored ... and the selection committee was left in the dark."Biskupic said that after the best and final offer submissions, Adelman was notified it won the travel contract on March 18 and that the committee wasn't notified until March 30, after the 10-day window to object to the award passed.

In closing, Biskupic said Thompson was supposed to defend the integrity of the process, but that instead, "she subverted the process."

In his opening remarks, Hurley portrayed Thompson as a simple, hard-working civil servant who had "a lot on her plate" during the contract award process. Hurley said Thompson was "not the least bit political."

Hurley pointed to a disconnect between what University of Wisconsin System representatives on the RFP committee understood about the bidding process and what Thompson understood.

Hurley portrayed Thompson as an expert in the procurement process and that she "knew what the book said about procurement and not everybody else did."

Hurley said that after oral presentations, the UW System reps judged based on presentation style instead of substance. "Style was to be given no weight whatsoever," Hurley said.

When Thompson asked committee members to reevaluate their scores, Hurley said many of the committee members became upset. Hurley said the UW System reps didn't understand that the purpose of the evaluation meeting was to discuss scores.

Hurley noted that Thompson told committee members that she changed her score on a travel bid for UW Athletics after discussing how that vendor would better fulfill that department's needs with the evaluator for that department. Hurley said this move was "by the book."

When the process was moved to the "best and final offer phase," Hurley said UW members of the evaluation committee scoffed. Hurley said that 60 to 70 percent of all DOA bids move to this phase, while it is not as common in the UW bidding process.

Hurley said Thompson's actions in no way resulted in "fraud" or "theft" and that the contract was awarded to a "qualified company at the lowest price."

Hurley suggested that job security could not be a motive for her actions because her job was already secure and that she could only be fired for "just cause," which would not include giving a contract to a firm her superiors did not favor.

-- By David A. Wise


Randa Rules on Motions

Judge Rudolph Randa denied a defense motion to exclude evidence of phone calls between Adelman Travel, the govenor's office, and the Department of Administration.

Randa granted a motion from defense attorney Stephen Hurley regarding the exclusion of evidence about the quality of service from Adelman Travel or on the fact that contract was rescinded.

But Randa denied motions seeking the exclusion of the term "bid-rigging" and to stop the prosecution from referring to Thompson as "the defendant."

Another defense motion, asking Randa to order witnesses not to testify about their perceptions or beliefs about Thompson's motivations, was denied by Randa.

A motion to sequester witnesses was granted, with exclusion of WKOW-TV reporter Tony Galli, who will be allowed to be present to cover the case, and the case agents.

Randa reserved judment on a motion by the prosecution to exclude some expert defense witnesses. Biskupic argued the witnesses would be duplicative. Randa said he would make that determination as the witnesses come up.

Opening statements were to begin at 1:15 p.m.

-- By David A. Wise


Biskupic Says Prosecution Will Rest Tomorrow

The trial of Department of Administration employee Georgia Thompson is underway this morning in Milwaukee.

U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic told Judge Rudolph Randa that he will wrap up testimony by tomorrow afternoon.

Randa said from looking at the witness lists submitted Friday by the two sides, that a five-day trial is "pretty optimistic."

For now, the court has been cleared for jury selection. The attorneys will select 12 jurors and at least one alternate. Randa said he will ask potential jurors about media coverage, and will also ask if the coverage they saw will influence them.

Also this morning, Randa adopted Magistrate Patricia Gorence's recommendation to deny defense motions to dismiss the case. Randa said he would rule after jury selection on In Limine motions submitted by the two sides. The prosecution submitted a new motion this morning to limit the potential expert testimony of several witnesses listed by the defense regarding the bidding process. The prosecution requested they must testify on undisputed facts. Biskupic conceded in the filing that "it can be proper for RFP evaluators to change their minds after discussion and that resort can be had to the 'best and final' process."

"A parade of current and former department of adminstration procurement officials testifying on these undisputed points would not be helpful to the trier of fact," Biskupic stated in his filing.

-- By David A. Wise


Witness Lists Include Doyle, Marotta, Adelman Execs

Gov. Jim Doyle, former DOA Secretary Marc Marotta, Adelman execs and others are listed as possible witnesses, involved persons or names that could be brought up in the course of the trial of Georgia Thompson in a defense listing filed Sunday evening.

See the list:

A prosecution witness list has also been filed.

See the list:

-- By David A. Wise


Prosecution to Offer Evidence of Adelman's Interactions with State Gov't

In its response to a series of the defense's pre-trial motions in the "bid-rigging" case against Georgia Thompson, the prosecution said Sunday it intends to introduce evidence related to the interaction between Gov. Jim Doyle's office, Adelman Travel Group representatives and political appointees within the Department of Administration.

Thompson's attorney, Stephen Hurley, has asked the court to rule such evidence inadmissible.

Thompson is accused of inflating bid scores as a DOA employee on a request for proposals committee due to "political considerations," so a now-rescinded $750,000 state travel contract would be awarded to Doyle campaign contributor Adelman Travel. Her trial is scheduled to begin in a Milwaukee federal court this morning.

The government seems to be making the case that Thompson may have not been directly pressed to push Adelman, but that she "perceived" her superiors wanted Adelman to win the bid.

The government said that "evidence that Adelman Travel did in fact have access to, and political influence within, the highest levels of state government increases the likelihood that Georgia Thompson perceived that access and influence and further perceived that her politically appointed superiors favored Adelman Travel."

The filing further states that "the government intends to prove such connections and access by evidence of:

* correspondence between Adelman Travel and the Governor's Office and the DOA

* meetings Adelman Travel principals and representatives had with political appointees and others within Governor's Office and DOA, before the travel-agency-services RFP was issued

* phone calls between Adelman Travel and the Secretary of the Department of Administration during the RFP process

* contributions Craig Adelman made to Governor James Doyle's campaign fund

In the rest of the 12-page document the government asks the court to deny all five of the defense motions made that its filing addresses. They included Hurley's request to disallow information on the termination of Adelman's contract after Thompson was indicted.

The prosecution says that motion is moot, because it does not intend to offer evidence related to the termination of the Adelman contract nor how well Adelman performed under its terms.

The government also disagreed with the defense's assertion that the term "bid-rigging" is misleading and should not be used during trial, saying "the term is an accurate short-hand for the type of conduct alleged in the indictment."

Hurley had also asked the court to disallow testimony from other members of the committee relating to the motivation for Thompson's actions. The filing quotes several interviews with investigators where committee members said they thought there was "outside pressure," "outside forces" or "political reasons" behind some of Thompson's actions in committee.

Hurley argued that federal rules of evidence "require that a witness give testimony based on perception from the five senses – not from some sixth sense."

The government is arguing, however, that honest services fraud is a "specific intent crime" and that the defendant's "state of mind is clearly at issue."

The prosecution further states that "the jury is entitled to get the full flavor of how the contract was awarded; that includes the witnesses' perceptions of Thompson's state of mind -- based on their personal knowledge of her conduct, comments, and demeanor. What weight those perceptions deserve is for the jury."

In another motion Hurley asked Thompson be addressed as "Ms. Thompson," "Georgia Thompson," or "the accused," instead of as "the defendant," which Hurley said presumes guilt.

The government replied that "Thompson is the defendant in this case. Referring to her as such is accurate and will in no way undermine the presumption of innocence or alter the government's burden of proof, particularly upon the jurors' being instructed as to these matters before their deliberations."

Read the prosecution's filings:
*Prosecution Response to In Limine Filings:

See a previous Courtwatch post on other pre-trial filings

-- By David A. Wise


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Blanchard Urges Judge To Keep Jensen In Custody

Dane County DA Brian Blanchard filed a brief today urging Judge Steven Ebert to keep former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen from being released on bond pending appeal.

"A motion for release on bond must be judged on the likelihood that an appeal could be successful, and that the defendant would be irreparably injured -- Jensen and his attorney have not demonstrated any significant grounds to support those criteria," Blanchard wrote.

"Jensen will suffer irreparable injury from the denial of release pending appeal only if he serves all or most of his prison sentence while the appeal is pending, and also the appeal ultimately results in reversal of his conviction. Jensen has failed to show it is likely he will suffer irreparable injury because he has failed to show it is likely he will succeed on appeal," Blanchard writes.

Blanchard also attempts to shoot down the claim that Jensen is entitled to the release because he was not convicted of a violent crime. He admits while the multiple counts of misconduct in public office don't constitute personal violence, "(Jensen) did do violence to the trust necessary to a democratic system of government." And Jensen's attitude toward his offense makes him likely to recommit, Blanchard argues.

"At trial, the defendant both lied about his knowledge of the misconduct that was charged, and also attempted to assert that even if he had committed various of the charged acts, it was not wrong for him to do so," writes Blanchard. "He claimed, in part, that he was entitled to do what he did. Even at sentencing, he failed to recognize or acknowledge the wrongfulness of his conduct. While it is more difficult for him to facilitate or participate directly in official misconduct now that he is no longer a public official, his belief that he did nothing wrong represents a risk that he will engage in other fraudulent conduct, because he believes he is entitled to do so."

A motion hearing in the case is scheduled for June 19. Jensen has been ordered by Ebert to report to the Dane County Jail on July 15 to begin serving a 15-month sentence, unless a stay is granted pending appeal.

See Blanchard's filing:


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Filings Hint At Evidence Of DOA/Gov's Office Calls With Adelman

With the felony "bid-rigging" case against DOA civil servant Georgia Thompson set to begin Monday, attorneys in the case Thursday evening filed a flurry of pre-trial documents, totaling dozens of pages, which offer a glimpse into the attorneys' possible strategies and key points of evidence.

Thompson has been charged with manipulating bid scores while serving on a request for proposals committee, so a $750,000 state travel contract would be awarded to Adelman Travel Group. Adelman execs donated a total of $20,000 to Gov. Jim Doyle's re-election campaign shortly before and after the award of the now-rescinded contract.

One defense filing seems to suggest that the prosecution plans to introduce evidence of "phone calls placed by and between principals of Adelman Travel Group, Governor Doyle's office and Wisconsin Department of Administration ("DOA"), including DOA Secretary Marc Marotta." The same filing seeks to disallow that and other types of evidence relating to Doyle's campaign as irrelevant to the case against Thompson.

Another defense filing seeks to disallow testimony from other members of the committee relating to the motivation for Thompson's actions. The filing quotes several interviews with investigators where committee members said they thought there was "outside pressure","outside forces" or "political reasons" behind some of Thompson's actions in committee.

Other filings include proposed jury questions from each side, proposed jury instructions and a defense objection to a magistrate's recommendation from earlier this week that defense motions to dismiss be denied.

Read below for a summary of Thursday's filings.

***Defense motions

In a series of six pre-trial motions, Thompson's attorney, Stephen Hurley, seeks to suppress what may be key points of the government's case.

In his first motion, Hurley asks Chief Judge Rudolph Randa to prohibit evidence regarding donations by Adelman Travel Group execs to Doyle's campaign fund, an invitation sent by an Adelman exec to Doyle to attend an Adelman function, phone calls between Adelman, Doyle, and the Wisconsin Department of Administration, including former DOA Sec. Mark Marotta, and whether travel agencies who responded to the request for proposals donated to Doyle's campaign fund.

Read the motion:

Hurley also asks the court to disallow testimony stemming from a person's "perception" or "belief" as to reasons behind Thompson's alleged statements or conduct during committee meetings. Hurley argues that "no witness could describe any factual or objective observation for their assertion."

Hurley further argues that federal rules of evidence "require that a witness give testimony based on perception from the five senses – not from some sixth sense."

Some examples of testimony Hurley says should be inadmissible:

"The perception among the committee members was so strong Thompson was being directed by outside forces to push for Adelman, they told her she didn't have to do this if she was having a struggle."

"There was something even more unusual going on than just Thompson's unhappiness with the selection. It was the consensus of the other committee members there was some outside pressure driving Thompson."

"Nettesheim believed that there were political reasons behind Thompson's statement."

Read the motion:

Read the other motions:

***Proposed juror questions

In Hurley's proposed jury questions he proposes a series of questions that appear aimed not only at gauging a potential juror's level of political involvement, but also political orientation. Among questions about whether a person has donated money to a candidate or ran for office are such questions as "Are you involved in any local political activities? What are/were they?" and "Do you have bumper stickers on any of your vehicles? If so, what do they say?"

Other questions look to point out bias due to various other affiliations, past experiences, general opinions, and possible media exposure relating to the case.

See Hurley's proposed questions:

Many of the prosecution's proposed questions are in the same vein, but others are quite pointed.

One outlines a summary of a portion of the indictment and asks: "Do any of you feel that a public employee responsible for deciding who should be awarded a public contract should be free to disregard the written criteria governing who should be awarded the contract and instead award the contract to a vendor favored by her supervisors or state politicians?"

Another asks: "The government contends that, but for the defendant's alleged wrongful conduct, the State of Wisconsin would have awarded the contract to the travel agency Omega World Travel. Have you, any member of your family, or any close friend ever been employed by the (sic) Omega World Travel?"

View the government's questions:

***Proposed jury instructions

The proposed jury instructions offer further insight into both the prosecution's and the defense's strategy.

In wording that harkens back to a previous filing, the government proposes that the jury be told "a participant in a scheme to defraud may be guilty even if all of the benefits of the fraud accrue to others. The public may be deprived of its public officials' or employees' honest services no matter who receives the benefits of the fraud."

The government also seeks the jury to be told that "In order to prove the existence of the charged conspiracy to engage in a scheme to defraud, the government need not prove that there was any loss to the alleged victims of the scheme or any gain to Thompson. The government also need not identify who, in particular, were the intended or actual victims of the alleged scheme."

See the government's proposed jury instructions:

One of Hurley's proposed jury instructions suggests a defense theory that Thompson may not have been aware that her alleged actions were part of other criminal activity. "If the accused performed acts that advanced a criminal activity of others but had no knowledge that a crime was being committed or was about to be committed, those acts alone are not sufficient to establish Georgia Thompson's guilt," writes Hurley.

Hurley also seems to suggest Thompson's alleged actions could have been motivated by simply wanting to award the contract to a Wisconsin company. "A violation of the Wisconsin Administrative Code governing the procurement process does not, standing alone, constitute the commission of either offense with which the accused has been charged," writes Hurley. "If you believe that Georgia Thompson acted with the intent to cause the award of the Partner contract to a Wisconsin-based company, you must acquit her."

See the defense's proposed instructions:

***Hurley Objects To Magistrate's Recommendations

Hurley fired back at Magistrate Judge Patricia Gorence's recommendations to deny a motion for a bill of particulars and two pre-trial motions to dismiss. In his rebuke, Hurley brings attention to the fact that the recommendations, which are to allow for a 10-day response period, were filed less than a week before the trial was set to begin. Hurley said the timing left "no more that three businesses days to file objections" before the trial was to begin and blamed the short preparation time for what he termed his "sparse" objections.

Hurley reiterated his position that the indictment and discovery materials failed to answer fundamental questions. "The indictment ought not be complex," argued Hurley, "though it need not be so sparse as haiku – and, quite unlike the Da Vinci Code, its unraveling ought not be suspenseful." In the remainder of the document, Hurley reiterates the rest of his positions in his original motions and parries with Gorence on the applicability of various precedents.

See the objection here:

In its response to the defense's objection, the government cites a Seventh Court of Appeals decision and, contrary to Hurley, asserts that there need be no underlying offense committed to for honest services fraud to occur.

The government also argues that the discretionary nature of Thompson's job is no defense for her alleged actions. "The indictment alleges that she exercised that discretion dishonestly," the government writes, "by, among other things, inflating her score on the "partner" contract, trying to cause others to do so, and ultimately causing the contract to be steered to a particular vendor for political reasons other than the merits criteria that were to govern the contract award process."

See the prosecution response:

See an earlier Courtwatch Blog posting on the magistrate's recommendation.

-- By David A. Wise


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