You might term this our state government issue. We have a lot of words discussing what goes on, or what has gone on, in the governmental complex or damn near it. There are two stories, each highlighting the intrigue, infighting and sometimes inscrutability of the people in charge of the machinery of state. One of the stories demonstrates what can happen to people caught in the middle.
That's the story news editor Bill Lueders unearthed while researching another story, to wit: The U.S. attorney who prosecuted state purchasing agent Georgia Thompson, in what was supposed to be an influence-peddling case, was actually aiming for the governor during a campaign period. Though Thompson was convicted in June 2006, her conviction was overturned on appeal, in a scathing rejection of the U.S. attorney's actions.
What makes this story so interesting is that it parallels the national inquiry over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration's Justice Department. The suspicion is that they were let go for not pursuing more zealously charges against Democrats for various election-related crimes, regardless of the paucity of evidence. The lack of real evidence didn't stop the wheel of justice in Wisconsin from grinding up Democrat Thompson. Read the story and draw your own conclusions.
The second state government-related story is the one that appears on our cover, "The Gatekeeper" by Erik Gunn. Nothing sensational here, which is just the way Susan Goodwin, Gov. Jim Doyle's chief of staff, likes it. Others aren't so crazy about how tightly Goodwin controls access to the gubernatorial gate.
Among the plaints: That she is a shadowy figure working behind the scenes to influence government, and that her tight control isolates the governor and diminishes the progressive agenda in Wisconsin. (That's not dissimilar to what you would hear about James Klauser during some of the Tommy Thompson years, but without the progressive agenda part.)
Gunn has interviewed a range of state players and found discontent in both political parties over Goodwin's control. He gives us Goodwin's background and circumstances, and traces the source of her power to her long and close relationship with Jim Doyle. Folks can complain, Gunn assures us, but it's not going to sway the governor's watchdog from her appointed task.