Three long years ago I wrote a post about the much-neglected story of how the GOP was playing dangerous games in New Hampshire. I said at the time it was a story to “watch carefully.” Now, finally, it appears the trail leads from New Hampshire to the White House.

Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.

The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 — as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was “preposterous” to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.

The Justice Department has secured three convictions in the case but hasn’t accused any White House or national Republican officials of wrongdoing, nor made any allegations suggesting party officials outside New Hampshire were involved. The phone records of calls to the White House were exhibits in Tobin’s trial but prosecutors did not make them part of their case.

Democrats plan to ask a federal judge Tuesday to order GOP and White House officials to answer questions about the phone jamming in a civil lawsuit alleging voter fraud.

Repeated hang-up calls that jammed telephone lines at a Democratic get-out-the-vote center occurred in a Senate race in which Republican John Sununu defeated Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, 51 percent to 46 percent, on Nov. 5, 2002.

Besides the conviction of Tobin, the Republicans’ New England regional director, prosecutors negotiated two plea bargains: one with a New Hampshire Republican Party official and another with the owner of a telemarketing firm involved in the scheme. The owner of the subcontractor firm whose employees made the hang-up calls is under indictment.

The phone records show that most calls to the White House were from Tobin, who became
President Bush’s presidential campaign chairman for the New England region in 2004.

The GOP, the best of the best. No act of treachery will go unrewarded. But this is completely in keeping with a party that sees no trick as too dirty when it comes to winning, even if it involves committing a felony. As unhappy as I am with America today, iit’s consoling to know that the system is still semi-functional and can still put people like Tobin where they belong, in jail. Let’s see how far this story goes; all it takes is one good lead to make this tinderbox explode.

The Discussion: One Comment

I wonder if the US will ever allow foreing election monitors to observe “Democracy in Action” US style.

April 11, 2006 @ 11:12 am | Comment

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