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Virginia Republican Party's chairman resigns after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting in the eavesdropping case.
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Date published: 8/13/2003
RICHMOND--For the second time, a state Republican Party official has resigned over his involvement in the eavesdropping scandal.
State Republican Party chairman Gary Thomson quit yesterday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of "aiding and abetting the unauthorized publication of a wire communication." Thomson was sentenced to two years of probation and a $2,000 fine.
Thomson is the second party official to resign in the 17 months since police began investigating a Republican operative's eavesdropping on Democrats' conference calls in March 2002.
Edmund Matricardi III, a Spotsylvania County resident who had been the state party's executive director, received three years probation and a $5,000 fine for listening to and taping the calls.
According to the statement of facts that accompanied Thomson's plea Tuesday, Matricardi told Thomson that he had listened to a conference call in which Democratic legislators, as well as Gov. Mark Warner, were discussing a redistricting lawsuit. Thomson allowed Matricardi to pass information from the calls on to others.
"He didn't shut it down, in essence," said Thomson's attorney, Howard Vick.
In a prepared statement, Thomson said he "was not aware then that what I did was, in fact, technically a misdemeanor.
"I am most upset that my instincts did not prevent this incident," Thomson added. "Being 'asleep at the switch,' however, is no excuse for a leader. As a leader, I must, and will accept responsibility for my own actions."
In his statement, Thomson said he disclosed his role in the eavesdropping to police on the first day of the investigation, and continued to cooperate throughout the investigation.
Publicly, however, Thomson had previously denied having such knowledge of Matricardi's actions. Soon after the eavesdropping scandal broke, a Charlottesville television reporter asked Thomson if he had seen a transcript of the calls, and Thomson said he had not.
Thomson was first elected party chairman in January 2001. He is a certified public accountant with the firm of Goodman & Company.
Thomson's resignation is the latest episode in what has been a troubled year and a half for the Republican Party.
Soon after Matricardi's involvement in the eavesdropping scandal became public last year, another GOP operative was implicated as well: Claudia Tucker, then-chief of staff to former House Speaker Vance Wilkins, was indicted and eventually pleaded guilty.