Friday, July 21, 2006

Attorney Says Thompson Verdict Shows Bias Against Politicians, Seeks Acquittal or New Trial

Comments made to the media by two jurors show that they convicted Georgia Thompson based on inference, not fact, according to a brief filed this week by the former Department of Administration employee's lawyer.

Attorney Stephen Hurley says in the brief "the government did not produce any direct or 'smoking gun' evidence of Georgia Thompson's alleged wrong-doing. Instead, the government's case layered inference upon speculation upon inference and relied on the public's underlying bias against politicians (and public servants) - believing all politicians to be crooks - to obtain a guilty verdict."

Hurley cites comments from juror Marvin Bizelle, Sr., who according to Hurley "stated the jury believed higher ranking administration officials, including Governor James Doyle, were involved in the RFP Partner contract's award to Adelman Travel Group." Bizelle's statements were not supported by evidence at the trial, Hurley said, or by comments made by U.S. Atty. Steven Biskupic.

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. She is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 22.

The brief also argues that the state did not prove criminal conduct, did not prove that Thompson gained personally from her actions, or that there was any wrongdoing by her superiors or subordinates.

The prosecution has 30 days to file a response.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Lorge: Accusations 'False, Vicious, Slanderous and Libelous'

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Robert Gerald Lorge is calling accusations from a female relative ``false, vicious, slanderous and libelous'' and calls the release of them ``irresponsible.''

News about a complaint filed in Dane County Court against U.S. Senate candidate Lorge by the female relative appeared at WisPolitics.com, JSOnline and at the online site of the Appleton Post Crescent.

Lorge's attorney told reporters that the alleged victim, when deposed, could not recall the accusations outlined in the lawsuit. But he was unable to produce the deposition over the weekend because he was out of town.

Other pro-Lorge affidavits have been filed, however.

Lorge and his attorney didn't return WisPolitics.com phone calls prior to the story, but Lorge in a weekend statement thanked "family, supporters and fellow Republicans for their show of support this weekend.''

See the previous Courtwatch post:
Civil Suit Accuses U.S. Senate Hopeful Lorge of Molesting Relative in 1986

See the other stories:
*http://www.postcrescent.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060715/APC0101/607150567/1979
*http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=468059

Friday, July 14, 2006

Civil Suit Accuses U.S. Senate Hopeful Lorge of Molesting Relative in 1986

Public court records show Robert Gerald Lorge, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, is accused in a civil lawsuit of repeatedly molesting a female relative in April and May 1986, when the girl was 3 years old.

The suit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court in December, seeks exemplary and punitive damages for physical injuries, pain and suffering, and incurred medical expenses. WisPolitics is not naming the alleged victim on the advice of legal counsel.

See the complaint: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/060714complaint.pdf

Lorge, who did not return repeated phone calls from WisPolitics this week, responded to the suit with a filing that calls the claims "impossible and frivolous" and motivated by "vindictiveness."

He has also filed affidavits from four family members - including former state Rep. Bill Lorge - dismissing the claims as false. The family members contend in their affidavits that the allegations were motivated by the victim's mother, who they say does not like Robert Lorge.

See the affidavits: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/060714LorgeAffidavit.pdf

"Furthermore, the timing of the accusations shows that this filing is an attempt to derail Mr. Lorge's candidacy for public office," Lorge's attorney argued in the response filed with the court.

See Lorge's response: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/060714Lorge.pdf

Lorge became the GOP nominee to take on Dem U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl this week after he was the only Republican candidate to turn in the required signatures to qualify for the ballot. The state GOP had been seeking a better-known candidate to take on Kohl and has made no effort to support Lorge's candidacy. The Badger Poll, released this week, showed Kohl leading Lorge 63 percent to 14 percent.

A GOP official declined to comment on the suit, as did Kohl's campaign.

In the suit, the woman says Lorge "committed battery, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and sexually abus(ed)" her, causing her "bodily and emotional harm."

There are no hearings for the suit listed on the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access Web site. The woman's attorney declined to comment when contacted by WisPolitics today.

Lorge, an attorney from Bear Creek and perennial candidate for statewide office, is the son of Gerald D. Lorge, a former Republican state senator who served in the Legislature between 1955 and 1983. His brother, Bill, was a state representative who served in the late 1980s and into the '90s.

-- By JR Ross

Supreme Court Sides with State in Dairyland Gambling Case

In a victory for the state's tribal casinos, a divided state Supreme Court today sided with the state in allowing tribal gaming compacts to stand. The court also overturned language in a previous decision that limited the state's ability to negotiate for additional games under the compacts.

In a 4-3 decision, the court ruled a 1993 amendment to the state Constitution does not affect gaming compacts between Indian tribes and the state. The court also said the state and tribes have the authority to expand gaming options when the compacts are renegotiated.

Writing for the majority, Justice Louis Butler said, "gaming can be expanded to the extent that the State and Tribes negotiate for additional Class III games."

Butler, who was not on the court the last time it heard the case, was joined in the majority by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justices Patrick Crooks and Ann Walsh Bradley.Justices David Prosser, Pat Roggensack and Jon Wilcox concurred in part with the majority, but also dissented in part.

In his opinion, Prosser called the majority opinion "far-reaching," and said it "could lead to could lead to an explosion of new gaming activities," including "such major gambling expansions as off-track pari-mutuel betting, betting on sporting events, jai alai, and all banking card games, which are barred by the Wisconsin Constitution but not prohibited by federal law."

Justice Pat Roggensack disapproved of the majority's move to overturn parts of a previous gaming decision, saying "the majority opinion surrenders the judicial independence of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin to the Governor, thereby stripping the court of its claim to be an impartial decision maker."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Supreme Court Rules Against Rongstad

In a decision released this morning, the state Supreme Court affirmed an earlier Circuit Court decision to fine consultant Todd Rongstad $65,000 and said the court properly ruled that he did not have the right to withhold a membership list for the group he headed.

State Sen. Julie Lassa took Rongstad to court over election mailers sent by the Alliance for Working Wisconsin, which was headed by Rongstad. The court's decision, written by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, also lays out a framework for dealing with similar cases in the future, asserting that circuit courts should rule on motions to dismiss before penalizing someone for refusing to unmask anonymous members of an organization.

"When faced with an assertion of constitutional privilege against disclosure of information identifying otherwise-anonymous organization members, the circuit court should decide a pending motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim before sanctioning the party for refusing to disclose that information," Bradley wrote.

One legal observer said, "It's a bad decision for Todd Rongstad but a good decision for anyone else who engages in these activities because it gives them a road map."

Bradley was joined in the majority by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice Louis Butler. Justices Jon Wilcox, Patrick Crooks and Pat Roggensack did not participate.

In his dissent, Justice David Prosser called Lassa's suit "an attempt to chill First Amendment rights by bringing a tort suit" and said "compelling Rongstad to disclose the membership information ... substantially chilled First Amendment rights."

Greg Bump
JR Ross

Contact bump@wispolitics.com with tips or news items for the blog.

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