With Friends Like These ...

Fred Thompson's friend, adviser and personal airline has a criminal record involving drug dealing, felony bookmaking, conspiracy, violation of parole and more. Yes, that would be former Republican Sen. Thompson of Tennessee, the one who is running for president. And according to The Washington Post, buddy/fundraiser/benefactor Philip Martin fell not once but twice for the undercover agent trick, attempting to sell 11 pounds of marijuana to one detective and some cocaine to a sheriff's deputy some other time.

But that was a long time ago, of course. And while Big Fred, who has traveled on Martin's plane to destinations that "coincided" with his campaign stops more than 24 times since June, is sore Martin didn't tell him about his plant and powder hijinks, he said Martin is still a good man. Martin is a "first day founder" who has been raising money for Thompson, his friend going back nearly 20 years. Until a change in September the law allowed presidential candidates like Thompson to use private airplanes and reimburse their owners for far less than the true cost. According to the Post, Thompson has reported reimbursing Martin $102,330, but has saved more than $100,000 by flying on Martin's jet.

My gut tells me Thompson won't take much heat for this. Why? While Rudy Giuliani's criminal association is the best known — as in Bernard Kerik — Mitt Romney doesn't want to spend any time talking about the former co-chairman of his national finance committee, Alan Fabian, either. Fabian was indicted in August on 23 counts of perjury, money laundering, bankruptcy fraud, obstruction of justice and mail fraud. Oh, and there's Bob Allen. Until July, Allen, a member of the Florida House of Representatives, was one of six co-chairmen in Florida for the campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). That is, until he was arrested after he offered a plainclothes police officer $20 for oral sex.

Who will throw the first stone at Mr. "Law & Order"?

***

Who thinks Big Fred suffers any political discomfort over the rich buddy with the private plane and criminal past? Send your comments and questions to my weekly video Q & A at askab@thehill.com.