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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Filed under: Fred Thompson
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. larry buchas

    It will not make a difference. He will sleep his way to the back of the pack.

    November 4, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  2. Bluffs New York NY

    Thompson is such a goofball, I don't know why HNN Hitler News Network bothers.

    November 4, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  3. Hillary in NY

    Philip Martin is a criminal and shouldn't be working for Fred Thompson!

    He belongs with the Clintonistas!!!

    November 4, 2007 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  4. Mary, St. Peter,Mn.

    I don't support Thompson, but I find this story irrelevant.
    When is the past the past???

    November 4, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  5. Muthoni,boston,ma

    Posted By David, Houston, TX : November 4, 2007 2:38 pm
    "Take Obama, for instance. He's admitted to drug use. I imagine the difference is that he never got arrested for it".
    Get your facts right buddy! Stop dragging Obama into the mud! We know who he is. mmmmmmh, well I had forgetten where you are, you are in houston tx? How about using bush as a better example, he is an active president and he admitted using drugs I am sure he need jail time because of drugs and killing innocent people!

    November 4, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  6. Sam, Lincoln, Nebraska

    I'm no fan of Thompson and I don't like his politics, but I do admire him for sticking by this advisor. I believe in redemption and second chances, and I fail to see what a 28 year old drug conviction has to do with Mr. Martin's ability to be an advisor to his campaign. I only hope Thompson shows some strength of character and keeps Mr. Martin on.

    November 4, 2007 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  7. Bradley Schaubs, Greeley, CO

    This may come as a surprise to Thompson, but I see an aspect about him that I've seen in president Bush: coming to the defense of a criminal we all know is guilty. For me, that isn't going to fly. I want a president who won't grant sanctuary to criminals and give unfair charges to the innocent.

    November 4, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  8. JD, Worcester, MA

    Big deal. George Washington sold a lot more hemp than that.

    I'm glad the media hasn't embraced the sensationalized "war on drugs" tone, painting the man as a complete monster on par with pedophiles.

    November 4, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  9. Scott Stuart, Meridian ID

    whats interesting is that if this was a "staffer" on Hillary's campaign, every Right-winger in America (including the self-righteous Fred Thompson) would be screaming uncontrollably. Republican's have such a double standard on "moral issues" that they so fervantly preach. Perhaps if Thompson releases the drug dealer he can hire Larry Craig, the distinguished Senator from Idaho to run his campaign!

    November 4, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  10. Robert, Shelton CT

    Just like SNL said: "On a scale of one to ten on how much I want to be President, I'd say I'm about a 6" when a parody of Fred Thompson answered his critics about him not want to be President....go back to the retirement home Fred.

    November 4, 2007 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  11. Keith Franklin, Tn

    Did Fred say he wished he knew about it earlier....did he mean he was asleep for that long???

    Fred....if you stay behind this guy no matter what...then you are truly the second W

    November 4, 2007 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  12. Glabon Blinze, Clinton, MD

    WHY is it that someone can commit a crime, serve out their sentence, and these morons come almost 25 years later and drudge it up.

    *NOBODY* is the same person they were a quarter century ago.

    November 4, 2007 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  13. TRM

    This mess was decades ago, and Fred shows a lot of character by sticking by his friend.

    November 4, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |


    How do you get to criticize someone else's criminal associates when you live in Boston?

    November 4, 2007 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  15. Len, Fallbrook, CA

    Ler's see.......

    The only thing CNN can come up with on Thompson is a rather unflattering photo and a negative story.

    The only things CNN can come up with on Hillary is nothing but smiling faces and positive articles.

    Nope, no bias here at all........

    November 4, 2007 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  16. San Diego, CA

    Does it really matter?

    Its like UFO's who the Frig cares? Why not ask questions that matter, like what they'll do to catch Osama, how will he react to the Pakistan ruler turned dictator, who holds nuclear weapons and has a relationship with the Taliban and Osama?
    What will he do about, JOBS 4 AMERICAN CITIZENS?

    November 4, 2007 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  17. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    Bet Fred Thompson wishes that Phil Martin would talk to Larry Craig and learn how to get the guilty pleas retroactively overturned.

    It's the new Republicanism.

    November 4, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  18. Trollmaster, CA

    I'm no fan of this Thompson, but cmon, this was a conviction in 1979. Aren't people supposed to get a second chance in life and have the right to redeem themselves? This guy seems do have done well for himself after he did his time.

    Thompson will gain some of my respect if he stands by this guy and is just outright honest about this.

    November 4, 2007 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  19. John from America

    Way to go Fred – stand by your junkie friends! Sound a lot like Rush and his drug addiction!

    November 4, 2007 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  20. Former Rightie, Pittsburgh

    This is a hoot. More of the same Republican hypocritical crap. I bet Mr. Martin is disappointed that he probably will not get that head of DEA job he was promised as a trade off for the jet.

    I like the comment about Rush! Calling Lindsey Lohan!

    And just how many people can say, "What, my best friend has a serious cocain rap sheet ?!"

    November 4, 2007 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  21. EB Rideout, Georgia

    Maybe Freddie was getting his Viagra through this guy............

    November 4, 2007 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  22. my911call, North Carolina

    This guy seriously has an up hill battle.

    November 4, 2007 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  23. Marie VanDyke Royal Oak Michigan

    So What He Had A Past Drug Conviction
    Do Anyone Beleive In Second Chances
    Geez Give the Man A Break 1983 When It Occured Not Yesterday..So so Judgemental In The USA..Do Not Judge Or You Will Be Judged By The Almighty Man Upstairs

    November 5, 2007 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  24. ashley foxworth, ms

    those of you who think this is not important should think again. it shows one thing that assures i will not vote for thompson. If he dosent know who is in his campaign for president then what would lead us to think he will know the background of people he appoints to help run this country! Those of you that say everyone deserves a second chance is right but that dosent mean that second chance should involve nat security, politics, gov, etc. I for one do not want an ex drug traffic convict having anything to do with running our country.

    November 5, 2007 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  25. mark wilkes barre pa

    to ashley foxworth ms, and you other hate momgers,,,,,,A standard criminal check would not necessaraly come up with a amost 30 year old conviction. It surely doesn't imply that fred thompson knew more or should have known more. this man was working on his campaign. what does that have to do with anything else than that ? Does any one here know for a fact that all the other candidates do a in-depth background check on every person working on their campaign team ??? come on dont be a dumb $&# !!!

    November 5, 2007 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
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