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. Karen,ny

    Isn't it amazing how all the Republicans seem to be drunks and drugies. I guess they can't face their lives without their crutches. Who in the world would want those kind of people running the country. We have an ex-drunk in their now and look at what is going on.

    November 5, 2007 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  2. JB Boston MA

    If anyone saw the interview, Fred didn't know the guy back then. He met him a few years afterward, when he got his life back on track. There was no jail time for any of the charges.

    What we should be talking about is the interview. I was very impressed with this guy. I liked his answers on Gay Marriage and Abortion. This guy is an old school republican. LET THE STATES DECIDE.

    November 5, 2007 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  3. Terry, El Paso, TX

    It amuses me to see Republicans take a bullet from their own gun, something that is happening a lot lately. There are two real issues here, which we will not discuss. First, this man, who made some stupid decisions, presumably paid his dues to society and has since proven himself to be a good citizen. As a nation based on Christian principles, we are commanded to accept his repentance, forgive him, and receive him back to our embrace. The second real issue is our drug laws. To my knowledge, any teenager who has wanted drugs in the last 40 years has been able to buy them. Many of the people who are reading this have used drugs and many are using drugs now. Will we use this event as an opportunity to re-examine our drug laws which have the effect of creating opportunities for criminals to make money but do not have the effect of preventing ANY American from using street drugs? No.

    We will get into a sneering contest to see which side can sneer more effectively. If Sen Clinton had employed a former drug peddler, the people who are now urging tolerance would urge intolerance.

    It is an unfortunate fact that half of America's voters have a below average IQ. Others, who have a higher IQ, are lost in the delusional worlds of religious fundamentalism and political fanaticism. To the mentally weak and disabled, politics is a team sport. The purpose of the public is to cheer for our side and sneer at their side. In the sport of politics, sportsmanship is for losers. If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying.

    November 5, 2007 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  4. Bob-Atlanta, GA

    Has anyone noticed how this is big news-a campaign aid who had a drug conviction 25-30 years ago; and Hillary has a campaign aid who has a 2 year old conviction (Sandy Berger) for stealing documents from the national archives, using security clearance given to him by her husband, and stealing documents related to her husband??

    Which seems more relevant??

    November 5, 2007 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  5. Pat Greene,Houston Texas

    That sounds like a line form L&O.

    November 5, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Why doesn't somebody in American Politics do the noble thing and remove all the Republican Bush Wannabees from the Campaign Roster. An Election Campaign is no place for these Losers. If it wasn't so sad it might be funny.

    Put a Red Line through Rudy, Fred, Mitt, Paul, Huckleberry and get on with stablizing America through Credible Leadership before it's too late.

    November 5, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. JB Boston MA

    John from America-

    You were defending Hillary Clinton and the Hsu situation. And yet you attack Thompson. At least Thompson didn't break election laws. Clintons interactions with someone who broke election contribution laws should be way more of a concern to you and every voting American.

    You are a joke. I am waiting for Tom from NM and pat from huntington to get in on the mix. Those two ususally respond within a few minutes of each other, becasue they are the same people! I will give it to your Hillary fans, you are die hard!

    It will be interesting when she loses, what you guys will do. Probably claim voter fraud!

    November 5, 2007 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  8. summus

    I watched him with Russert on Meet the Press this weekend. This guy totally does not want to be president. He has no fire in the belly at all. It was sad- it was like this whole presidential thing was some sort of punishment. This guy wants to relax without any sort of responsibilities.

    November 5, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  9. Jason Calabasas,CA

    Dont we have a PRESIDENT that used to USE drugs???? We cant attack the guy personally for having a friend and employee that was involved in drugs....

    November 5, 2007 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. thehypocrit

    Standing by a man with a past drug conviction....,NOT OK

    Standing by a man with a past conviction of lying, cheating, double dealing and two-timing....,OK

    November 5, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  11. DK, PA

    If this had been an advisor to another candidate Fred would have been all over them so I look at it as just another perfect example of the hypocricy of Fred and the right in general.

    November 5, 2007 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  12. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    I am hoping that the majority of Americans posting here are but a mere sampling of the American Population.

    As to think that the majority of Americans could actually endorse candidates who are so blantantly lacking in experience, capability, international diplomacy, political savy and intelligence as their next leader is Horrifying to say the least!

    I pray the majority of Americans will begin to think outside the box for this election. And vote for Capability and Experience versus Party and Family Ties.

    Our world is going to H*** in a Hand Basket. It is not the time to quibble over Red and Blue, Religious Backgrounds, Skin Color or Gender!

    It is time to elect a Capable Leader who is experienced in International Diplomacy and Politics.

    This is not the time for the Rudy's, Freds, Mitt's and Paul's of the world!
    We are in the midst of a World Crisis.
    Your vote as an American will make the difference between World Peace or World War III.

    I pray that this jeuvenile rhetoric being spewed on these blogs is solely for entertainment purposes. As the result of this election will be felt around the world. And given the number of unqualified Candidates Runnung in this race it is unnerving to say the least.

    Colbert can have his kicks for his amusement but after the results are counted the world will be left with the Real Deal.

    November 5, 2007 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. Buffalo

    "Let he is without sin cast the first stone". I am not a Thompson supporter but I think it is preposterous for people to attack his aide for mistakes he made in the past. Grow up people.

    November 5, 2007 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. Tom, Laurel, Md.

    I admire a person who stands up and says this person commited a crime he was my friend before I found about it and he remains my friend unlike many others who imediatly dump their friends soon after finding out or the press finds out about their mistakes.

    November 5, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. Jo, Atlanta GA


    November 5, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. Hank, Fort Myers, FL

    How does a former Bookie and drug trafficker become any Senator/Presidential candidates advisor in this country. In most states he isn't even allowed to vote! Further–how did this guy get to be his friend? His last comment says the're my friend–but I can't have my friends portrayed negatively in the press–so take a hike Jack.

    November 5, 2007 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. PollM, Dallas Tx

    Maybe Fred would done much better if he waited till the last week before elections, the surprise element was better than finding out what is between his ears. Air is the answer. Sorry no scripts for this show.

    Has Fred Thompson's campaign proven to be a disappointment?

    November 5, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. Kim, Midland MI

    Trying to sell $30,000 of cocaine, already on probation – AND HE GETS NO TIME!!!!

    Must be white
    Must be rich
    Must know someone important.

    November 5, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  19. Kim (again) Midland MI

    So, 30 year old drug convictions don't show up on record?

    That's not true AT ALL. My hubby got popped for possession and now is considered an "habitual abuser" in the eyes of the law, because he had a similar arrest more than 35 years ago -when he was a teenager.

    Lots of us agree that a drug conviction in the distant past should not mess up our lives, that's not what is happening to regular folks.

    So my husband is going to get time for a jay, but $30,000 of cocaine, no time.

    Drug laws in the country are whacked and are systematically destroying lives.

    November 5, 2007 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. John P NYC

    Thompson's answer shows that he is a class act. I disagree with Thompson on many issues but if I have to choose between Thompson and Hillary, I'd pick Thompson everytime. I thought for sure I would be voting for a Democratic President in 2008 after 8 years of that moron Bush.

    November 5, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. josh

    David from Houston:
    You're a Democrat? But you seem so smart and objective!

    November 5, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |


    November 5, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Someone on Thompsons staff was charged with "violating his probation, along with multiple counts of felony bookmaking, cocaine trafficking and conspiracy" and pleaded "no contest to cocaine-trafficking and conspiracy charges" ????

    Big deal, almost all Republicans have been convicted of something lol

    November 5, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Other news outlets are reporting that Fred Thompson's pal is also a tax evader. If this is an example of Fred's ability to judge character, he might as well drop out of the race now.

    November 5, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Wasn't one, bad, B-actor as president enough for America?!

    I don't get it with Thompson and the GOP!!!

    November 5, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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