Sunday, December 18, 2005

Do Republican's want fair elections? You be the judge.

The New York Times has a little column called National Roundup, where they publish odds and ends from around the country. On December 16th it had a little blurb, about 6 paragraphs into it from the New England region. Here it is, reprinted in its entirety.


A former top Republican Party official was convicted on charges of telephone harassment in a plot to jam the Democrats' phones on Election Day 2002. The federal jury acquitted the defendant, James Tobin, on the most serious charge, conspiring to violate voters' rights. Mr. Tobin, 45, of Bangor, Me., could receive up to seven years in prison and $500,000 in fines when he is sentenced in March. For nearly two hours on that Election Day, hundreds of hang-up calls overwhelmed Democratic get-out-the-vote phone banks in New Hampshire and a ride-to-the-polls line run by the Manchester firefighters' union. Mr. Tobin was accused of orchestrating the phone jamming. (AP)

That’s a heck of a tidbit to bury deep within the paper of record. If I got this right some yahoo in New Hampshire took a fall for tying up the Democratic GOTV phones on Election day. Is this news? And who is this guy, anyway?

Understandably, the Concord (NH) Monitor dug a little deeper. I’m not into that whole plagerism thing but just to give you a flavor of what’s going on here’s the lede on the article they published under the headline:

Ex-GOP official guilty on two counts.

A jury convicted former national Republican Party official James Tobin yesterday on two counts of telephone harassment for his role in a plot to jam Democratic phone banks on Election Day 2002 in New Hampshire. But the federal jury acquitted Tobin on the most serious count, conspiracy to violate voters'rights.

Tobin, 45, of Bangor, Maine, was the New England political director for the Republican National Committee and the Northeast field representative for the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2002 election. He later served as New England chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaign but resigned shortly before the 2004 election, after allegations about his involvement in the phone scheme became public.

Tobin, who will be sentenced in March, faces up to seven years in prison and a $500,000 for the two counts on which he was convicted -conspiring to commit telephone harassment through repeated phone calls, and aiding and abetting telephone harassment committed by others. A guilty verdict on the voters' rights count could have added 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The 2002 election in New Hampshire included a close race for U.S. Senate between Jeanne Shaheen and John Sununu. On Election Day, a telemarketing firm hired by Republicans barraged six phone lines - belonging to four state Democratic field offices, the Manchester City Democrats and the Manchester firefighters union -with hundreds of anonymous, hang-up phone calls over two hours before the plot was called off.

Chuck McGee, the state Republican who came up with the idea, and Allen Raymond, the consultant with the telemarketing connections to make it possible, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy last year for their roles. McGee served seven months in federal prison, and Raymond is awaiting a five-month sentence. Both testified in U.S. District Court last week that Tobin put them in touch with each other so they could tie up Democratic phone lines, although they worked out the details on their own.

Did you catch that? (The NYT didn’t seem to.)

So here it is: The New England chairman of the Bush/Cheney campaign committee was convicted of illegally trying to prevent Dems from voting!

Here’s a little tidbit that Rachel Madow dropped on the air. The RNC plunked down a cool $750,000 for Tobin’s defense. I am completely down with the idea that everyone deserves a defense, but (silly me) I was just wondering, did donors to the Republican’s know that there money would be spent on defending a criminal who was trying to suppress the vote?

Probably, most of them wouldn’t really mind, but the guys who hand out that money, you know, to candidates f’rinsance, they don’t just give away ¾ a million bucks because he was a longtime supporter and he assured them that he had committed no crimes. You would think that for that kind of money, they would maybe be hoping that some uncomfortable details don’t become so generally widely known.

Oh, by the way, officials of the RNC, when asked why they underwrote Tobin’s defense said, “because he was a longtime supporter and he assured them that he had committed no crimes.”

Think it couldn’t get worse? Stay tuned for the Tobin-Abramoff connection.

On a personal note, I am sure you are wondering, where does Big Mitch get this stuff. Listen, if you want to write a blog about Republican corruption, you will never run out of material. Don’t believe me? Check this out.

"... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!"

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