November 5th, 2007
04:23 PM ET
7 years ago

Thompson advisor resigns after news of drug bust

A top aide to Fred Thompson stepped down Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A top advisor to former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson announced Monday he was resigning his position with the Republican's presidential campaign, a day after news surfaced he pleaded guilty more than 20 years ago to drug charges.

"The focus of this campaign should be on Fred Thompson's positions on the issues and his outstanding leadership ability, not on mistakes I made some 24 years ago," Phillip Martin said in a statement issued by Thompson's campaign. "I deeply regret any embarrassment this has caused."

It was first reported Sunday in the Washington Post that Martin pleaded guilty in 1979 to selling 11 pounds marijuana and no contest in 1983 to cocaine trafficking charges.

Thompson said yesterday he was unaware of the man’s past, and but he wouldn’t “throw my friend under the bus.”

He did say he would talk to Martin, and acknowledged “I’m running for president, I’ve got to, you know, do the right thing.”

- CNN's Mary Snow contributed to this report

Filed under: Fred Thompson
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Jeff in OH

    This is truly a bizarre story. The guy was a co-chairman of Thompson's campaign. The guy had multiple convictions for drug trafficking, including selling $30,000 of cocaine. This was not somebody who smoked some weed in college. It seems that Thompson knew all this and just didn't care. Fred says it was OK because Mr. Martin just got probation, but the reports I've read state that he has multiple convictions and violated his probation. Now the guy has megabucks and owns a private jet that Thompson uses. Plus, the guy is currently in trouble with the IRS. Geez, is he some kind of wannabe Columbian drug lord–cocaine deals, tax problems, treating politicians to rides on his jet.

    November 5, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  2. Rancid Badger Northampton MA

    Insane to punish a person yet again after a drug case some 20+ years ago. I do not see how this outing" has benefited anyone. Now we get to play for his unemployment. We, US tax payers,are compelled to spend $100,000,000,000.00 per year for drug enforcement; now that is really stupid! Your neighbor gets caught smoking pot and now MY TAXES will support him; with 3 meals a day, Sunday paper, "babysitting" guards, clothing, lawyers, laundry service, TV, and a place to sleep. I am old and I see the problem like a Mayberry rerun always the same. Never have I seen drunks coming out of the woodwork because alcholal is readily available. Taxes on a drugs makes money and we do not have to pay for someones lifestyle choice. A drunk loose her children to social services, an addict gets jail time & her children are wards of the state. Taxes on drugs would at least put our money to better use. Would you ever want someone who had never had any problems in life?

    November 5, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. Doug Barber, Crisfield, Maryland

    All these folks who say this Phillip Martin guy paid his debt to society should explain to me how the man pled guilty to selling 11 lbs of marijuana in 1979, got probation, was convicted in 1983 of violating his probation by conspiring to sell $30,000 worth of cocaine, and never spent a day in jail. Show me just one black american with those convictions and that few days in jail. Something is very rotten in the case of Mr. Martin – though I don't think it says much of anything about Fred Thompson.

    November 5, 2007 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  4. Juan, Fort Lauderdale, FL

    You Dems that suggest that Thompson should resign take note:

    As a judge, Alcee Hastings was impeached by a Democratic-controlled House for bribery and perjury; Nancy Pelosi voted for impeachment. But right now Alcee Hastings is a senior Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence where he chairs the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

    Yes, that's a mouthful, but the point is that leaders in your own party reward criminal acts of the highest nature with leadership positions of the highest nature.

    Lets not forget about Marion Barry who was re-elected after being caught on video smoking crack with a street-hooker.

    (And maybe the CNN Gestapo will leave my comment up this time!)

    November 5, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Poor Fred. If he had stayed out of the race longer, he would be more popular now. The way the campaign is run is an indicator of how the guy would run the federal government. I imagine him sitting up there in the White House like Reagan, working on speeches and writing sweet letters to little girls but having no clue regarding the policies of his administration or their impact on real people.

    November 5, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Charlie, Upstate NY

    Sen. Thompson is VP material if there ever was one. Nominate a centrist, make the right wing cipher the VP as a nod to the base. He's ideal for sending to funerals and the Army – Navy game.

    But in all seriousness, he would be a heartbeat away, and not even this country should be so cynical as to entertain the idea of Thompson occupying national office. Why not Jesse Ventura, while we're at it.

    November 5, 2007 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  7. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Big deal,I can not believe CNN would even mention this. So what if some "goofer" for a pwerson running for president did something stupid over 20 years ago. He got caught paied his debt to society and its OVER forget it CNN and everyboby else too!!

    Posted By P.J. midland TX. : November 5, 2007 5:10 pm

    We're not talking about a low-lever "gofer" here, PJ. Philip Martin was part of Fred Thompson's "inner circle" as a top adviser, and he's also accused of tax evasion – and he hasn't paid his debt for that, yet.

    And the tax evasion continues to this day.

    November 5, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  8. Cable King Pittsburgh PA

    Politically speaking, Fred the Head is Dead anyway.

    However, both races are fascinating and something dramatic is bound to occur in either or both parties.

    November 5, 2007 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  9. Bob, Austin, Texas

    "A liberal smear job"?!? What a load of crock. Liberals couldn't care less about what someone did 24 years ago, especially if they did the time for it. Conservatives, on the other hand, never forgive and will always have a knee-jerk reaction to drug dealing, for some reason. Look to the Guliani or McCain camps for any smear on this one.

    November 5, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  10. Darrel Lone Rock Iowa

    One more smear "tacktick" by guess who. My, oh my, Yes, can you believe it was the "washington post" hole diggers that manageed to smear a person who paid his dept to society 2 and 1/2 decades ago. What a low life thing to do. The drive by media has it eyes in the gutter. When are they going to apply the Golden Rule to themselves.

    The Good News is seldom reported by the post as they have agenda to seek and destroy any thing that threatens the clinton campain. When they report they dig throught the dirt first.

    My wise old MOM always told me if you can't say something nice about something then keep your mouth closed.

    Focus on the real issues and you might be surprised how many Americans will be for Fred in 08. I know I don't know who I am voting for as of yet, but I
    don't count Fred out. The canidates who preach out of both sides of the mounth have been droped from my mind however. You know if you don't stand for something you won't stand for nothing.

    November 5, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  11. Roland Sierra Vista, aZ

    It must be a slow day in the news.
    This guy made a mistake 20 plus years ago. I would venture to guess that Hillary has a few ghost of her own and Obamaa can't remember that cameras are running and say the pledge, Giulaini doesn't have the hair Rommney is a Morman etc etc. Let the one with no sins throw the stone.

    What exactly are the issues again???

    Go Fred

    November 5, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  12. Rodak - Sacremento, CA

    Fred you are too late my friend. Endorse Mike Huckabee while you still have some supporters. HE is the one candidate that is less like a politician and more like a human being.

    November 5, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. looneytune


    This is America's brain on drugs..

    November 5, 2007 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  14. Duncan McGinnis

    I wouldn't vote for Thompson under any circumstances, but it makes me worry a great deal about our country when a person has to resign from a political campaign over a 20 year old drug arrest. Unfortunately, we know that this old arrest will hurt Thompson, especially with Republicans, but what does it say about America that we have two wars going on, China about to buy us lock stock and barrel and people actually care about a 20 year old drug bust. God Help US!!

    November 5, 2007 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  15. Wayne, Greenville TX

    People –

    It's just not Philip Martin's old drug arrests that's an issue here – he's also in tax trouble with both the IRS and the State of Tennessee:

    November 5, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  16. roger, conway sc

    I know this is not true republicans don't do drugs, don't have homosexual relationships, know no one who has had an abortion, don't cheat on their spouses, don't lie or steal or take bribes are not hypocrites...remember they are the compassionate-religious conservatives who are holier than thou & do not wrong. This article can not be true...

    November 5, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  17. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I wasn't planning to vote for Thompson, however, in all honesty I don't believe Thompson knew about his friends past. And Martin, as a friend, should have disclosed this to Thompson long ago.

    November 5, 2007 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  18. Richard, St. Paul, MN

    These Hollywood types always get the best drugs...

    November 5, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  19. Jay, Kenosha, WI

    Thompson did exactly what he should have done. He still calls Martin his friend despite the damage he caused, yet recognizes that the American people will not trust Martin and therefore he must go.

    It's quite sad to see a couple of posts dragging Thompson's religion into it. I will expect to see plenty of these in the future.

    November 5, 2007 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  20. Dave T, Cleveland, OH

    Anonymous – You appear to be one of the hacks from that prowls the comment sites to spread your tripe! If you want to make an impact,
    why don't you list the web sites that are organizing movements to have Hillary arrested for campaign finance fraud (for starters)?

    November 5, 2007 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  21. Bill Albany ny

    What great fun! People accuse Stephen Colbert of making a mockery of the election process. How rich!!!!!! We Americans only need the front runners of each party to do that. I honestly am a bit disappointed that Thompson wouldn't stick up for the guy, although I think Thompson is an idiot. And to all you supporters of this hollywood elitist clown, Thompson, who are calling Martins actions from 20 some years ago "a mistake", I think you should re-think what a mistake is. A mistake is something on the order of knocking over your water glass or shooting your elderly hunting buddy in the face (and having him apologize for it). Selling 5 kilos of pot and cocaine conspiracy is not a mistake. I think Martin was fully aware of what he was doing and did it purposely.

    November 5, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  22. Brad, Stockton, CA

    If it was a "minor" drug charge from 20 years ago, forget it, everyone has done at least one dumb thing. But trafficking – wouldn't these things make him a felon? Why does he even have a job? If Mr. Thompson is in the dark about his top advisors, how is he goign to be capable of securing a our country?

    November 5, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  23. Ken, Grand Rapids, MI

    While I'm not a Thompson supporter, some of you are blowing this way out of proportion, as if these allegations were about Thompson himself, rather than someone on his campaign staff.

    Yes, they probably should have run a criminal background check and then not hired him, but... of all the reasons to vote for someone else instead, this has got to be among the most petty.

    November 5, 2007 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  24. Josef, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

    If when President you may have homosexual children, alcoholic children, and a series of other socially questionable behaviors as the child of the President, what little difference it should make when a close friend for many years tells you, before I met you I had a drug interest? It has since been cleared, both legally and socially; he has moved on with his life – and became a successful public servant of sorts since then to boot. How many of us can say that? Mr. Thompson is at issue, not the early adulthood mistakes we have all made at one time or another. His friend who goes under the premise of an "advisor", had a "prior". Rather, is he still doing it should be the question. He resigned, Mr. Thompson acknowledged his part in the resignation process, and is moving on. Shouldn't we?

    November 5, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  25. Anon, Torrance, CA

    11 pounds is not a trivial amount to be dealing...and cocaine trafficing is completely out of the question for someone "advising" one of the top Republican contenders.

    How could the Republican party not know about this???Maybe is was okay if he sent money to fund the Contras or donated to the party.

    This is not a misdemeanor...but mulitple felonies for drug traffiking. First Guiliani's SC chairman is caught dealing while in office, now this guy with a rap sheet is one of the top advisors?

    November 5, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
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