Thompson Co-Chair Quits Over Crooked Past

Cocaine, bookmaking and other charges fell Thompson's longtime friend
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2007 5:41 PM CST
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(Newser) – Old drug and bookmaking charges felled a co-chair of Fred Thompson’s presidential bid today, the AP reports. Philip Martin stepped down as head of Thompson’s fundraising group after his criminal record surfaced, including charges of conspiracy and cocaine trafficking in the 1970s and '80s. “I deeply regret any embarrassment this has caused,” Martin said.

Martin also faces tax troubles: Companies linked to Martin owe more than $500,000 in back taxes to several states and the IRS, the Washington Post reports. Thompson said he was unaware of Martin’s past and characterized him as “a good man” who has “paid his debt to society.” A longtime friend of Martin's, Thompson has been making campaign appearances in his private jet—an amenity he has vowed to forgo.