November 5th, 2007
08:27 AM ET
15 years ago

Thompson responds to reports of adviser's criminal past

Thompson responded Sunday to reports of his adviser's criminal past.

(CNN)- A Republican presidential hopeful stood by a campaign adviser Sunday after it was revealed that person had a past drug conviction.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Philip Martin, a businessman who serves as a co-chairman for former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson's campaign, entered a guilty plea to the sale of 11 pounds of marijuana in 1979. According to the Post, the court withheld judgment pending completion of his probation.

On Sunday, Thompson said he was unaware of the situation before the report.

"I wish I had known about it a little earlier," Thompson said to reporters before his appearance on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' "Phil I'm sure knows that he should have told me about this, but he thought it was over and done with and forgotten about I’m sure. But of course nothing is ever over and done with and forgotten about in this business."

The Post went on to say that Martin was charged in 1983 with violating his probation, along with multiple counts of felony bookmaking, cocaine trafficking and conspiracy. The newspaper said Martin pleaded no contest to cocaine-trafficking and conspiracy charges, which were part of a plan to sell $30,000 worth of cocaine, and was continued on probation.

"I know him to be a good man," Thompson said on Sunday. "I know him to be a man who has rehabilitated himself and led a productive life. He's my friend. He's gonna remain my friend."

As for Martin's future role with the campaign, Thompson said that has not been decided.

"You know, what I do about it after I talk to him with regard to the future we'll just have to see, sit down and work out, and do the right thing to a fellow who is a friend., but who is now on the front page of the Washington Post."

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- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

Filed under: Fred Thompson
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Jay, Kenosha, WI

    A perfectly reasonable answer by Thompson, who is being generous to this friend who cost him political points by keeping his troubled past from him.

    November 4, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. Jay, Kenosha, WI

    CNN finally found a reason to put Fred Thompson in the news. Thompson also said many other interesting things regarding the issues, but you will have to find those elsewhere.

    November 4, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. ray, madison, w.i.

    reasonable response without the weird sentence constructs of "Hillaryspeak".

    November 4, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Wallace, Chicago IL

    This was a reasonable response.
    We'll see what happens.

    I doubt he'll fire the guy, but the advisor may be a liability, but we'll see.


    November 4, 2007 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  5. Henry, VA

    This isn't a "business" Fred. You're running for the highest elected government role in our country, a representative of the American people! Do us a favor and go back to the attic.

    November 4, 2007 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. David, Houston, TX

    Thompson's response should've been something like, "Well, you know a lot of us have done things in the past that we're not proud of. Take Obama, for instance. He's admitted to drug use. I imagine the difference is that he never got arrested for it. Look at him now... what a difference an arrest or non-arrest makes." For what it's worth, these words from a democrat who retains his objectivism.

    November 4, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. Raymond, El Paso TX

    Fred didn't sound very shocked or critical but then again, he's in show biz where drug use is rampant.

    November 4, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  8. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    What a mug shot! So how come CNN isn't documenting Thompson's dramatic fall in all the early voting states?

    November 4, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. Evette, Waianae HI

    I wonder if this man has a felony on his record like so many African American men do? For committing the same crime.....selling drugs

    November 4, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. Jon Davis, Las Cruces, NM

    Not much of a response. His friend may be clean now, but he's not much of a friend if he didn't bother to tell Thompson about his past crimes. Past convictions cannot be excused as simply "I forgot".

    November 4, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. JC Lewis, Garrison KY

    He would have told Fred, "I don't recall," but was afraid of becoming an attorney general nominee.

    November 4, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. Bob North Conway,NH

    I'm guessing this announcement from Thompson came after his nap.

    November 4, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. Daniel, NY

    Given how weak Thompson is in this new general election poll of Kentucky, Republicans might want to reconsider their support for him. Poll link.

    November 4, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. Frankie Machine, Boston MA

    I really resent that Fred Thompson is being applauded here for standing by "a friend." I'll remind everyone:

    "Martin pleaded no contest to cocaine-trafficking and conspiracy charges, which were part of a plan to sell $30,000 worth of cocaine, "

    How many of YOUR friends are involved in cocaine trafficking? This guy's no "friend," Grampa Fred. Get rid of him. And do us all a favor and retire to the rocking chair, already.

    November 4, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Karen,ny

    Thompson is finished now. I really think that he checked this man out before he trusted him into his inner circle. That is what happens when you aren't careful.

    November 4, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. Andre' Green, Dalworthington Gardens, Texas

    Although it is obviously a double standard between the private sector and the public, I don't believe that everyone that has been in trouble should be judged continuously by an old mistake. i would rather see some of these politicos hold on to their friends, if they are truly their friends instead of throwing them overboard as they regularly do. If you claim someone is your friend, and you want America to trust you to hold the nation's highest office, what does a politician exemplify when he/she drops those supposedly close to them?
    Trust and loyalty are a two-way street and i would have more respect for a person who stood up for their "loyal friends" rather than bow to polls. ...Unless those friends damage the very fabric of our nation (See George Bush).

    November 4, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. Kevin, NY

    (1) I doubt Thompson asked him about these convictions, since Thompson did not say the guy lied to him. The guy is under no obligation to tell Thompson every thing about his life, such as who he has slept with.

    (2) This guy is not a criminal. Anybody who thinks drugs are an actual "crime" deserves themselves to spend years in jail for doing virtually nothing.

    November 4, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  18. Wallace, Chicago IL

    Evette, Waianae HI

    Are you serious?
    I wonder if you have a charge on your record since you're from Hawaii. What are you Samoan? Are you poor, maybe on welfare? I also wonder if his advisor is on welfare, since there are more Caucasians on welfare than any other race.

    yea... my comments were stupid, ridiculous, irrelevant, and not supported with facts, just like the nonsense that you wrote. People are people, regardless of race, nationality, creed, and the like.

    No need for your brand of hate here!


    November 4, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. Terry Jones Ocala, Fl

    I believe that we are all sinners and that we are all forgiven if we ask in Jesus name. I am sorry that there are people who do not understand or believe that. Let him who has no sin cast the first stone and see how many throw the stones.

    November 4, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. Tibo, NH

    If this was a democrat, the republicans would have a special legislative session to pass a resolution condemning said candidate – but of course its a republican so no big deal – for republicans are above the law! Just ask Bush, Foley, Chenney, Craig.

    November 4, 2007 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  21. monica, rochester new york

    David of Houston, equating a young person's brief experimentation with drugs to that of a big time twice convicted drug traffickor and conspirator is outrageous. You should reassess your so called "objectivity". Your obvious attempt at deflection from this important slip-up by Thompson makes your claim of being a democrat suspect as well.

    November 4, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |

    Oh HORRORS!!!!!! A past drug bust! From 1979!

    Wait, wasn't that like in the last century? And it's pertinent now because?

    I'm sorry, but this is a non-issue to me, it has nothing to do with Sen Fred's ability to govern, and so frikkin what if the dude had a drug bust from last century for of all things MARYJANE! It didn't specify if he inhaled or not though!

    November 4, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  23. matt

    Does this mean we can stop talking about Norman Hsu? Let's hope...

    November 4, 2007 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  24. Bill Albany ny

    I wonder if Rush Limbuagh ever bought drugs from this guy.

    November 4, 2007 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  25. Simon,boston,ma

    How do you associate yourself with criminals as a lawyer and law and order actor....It just doesn't click.....

    November 4, 2007 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
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