GEF @ 6:08 PM MST
IS THE REAL REASON FOR BUSH’S WIRE TAPS AS SIMPLE AS THE WHITE HOUSE USING THEM FOR REPUBLICAN POLITICAL AND BUSINESS GAINS SINCE SEPT 11, 2001 ? MANY THINK SO!
Ex-consultant says no White House link in GOP phone jamming during 2002 New Hampshire election
A former Republican consultant who served three months in prison for his role in the Election Day 2002 phone-jamming operation against New Hampshire Democrats said Wednesday he knows of no connection between the White House and the plot.
“I cannot link the New Hampshire phone jamming scheme in any way to President George Bush’s White House,” Allen Raymond said at a joint hearing of two House Judiciary subcommittees.
But Raymond said his training at the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee told him that “unusual programs never saw the light of day without a thorough vetting by committee attorneys.”
Raymond has written a book, “How to Rig an Election,” about his experiences. He said he hopes his testimony will shed light on “the worst practices by bad actors” in politics and prevent future attempts to taint elections.
Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., urged his colleagues to focus on key “unanswered questions” about whether the White House played a role in the plot and whether the Justice Department dragged its feet on the case for political reasons.
“We need to know whether others were involved in the election interference, whether they attempted to cover up the involvement of other political operatives, and whether there was a concerted effort to delay prosecution,” Hodes said.
Hodes said the public deserves to know whether political interference delayed prosecution of the case until after the 2004 elections and Bush’s re-election.
Republicans fumed at the charges. Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, suggested Democrats were recycling a six-year-old case to score political points against the GOP in an election year.
“These cases are old news,” Cannon said.
The phone-jamming scandal has led to at least three criminal prosecutions and a lawsuit that was settled with Republicans paying the Democrats $135,000.
More than 800 hang-up calls jammed get-out-the-vote phone lines set up by the state Democratic Party and the Manchester firefighters’ union for more than an hour on Election Day, when Republican John Sununu won a Senate race against then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat. Because Sununu won by nearly 20,000 votes, the more than 800 jammed phone calls probably had little impact on the outcome of the race.
Charles McGee, former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, pleaded guilty and served seven months in prison for his role in the scheme.
Former RNC regional director James Tobin of Maine was convicted by a jury in 2005 of helping arrange the phone-jam calls. He was acquitted this year on appeal; federal prosecutors are appealing.
Citing the pending appeal, spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said the Justice Department would not comment on the House hearing.
At the time of the jamming, Tobin was regional political director for the RNC and the GOP Senate election committee, overseeing Senate campaigns in several states. In 2004, he stepped down as New England chairman of Bush’s re-election campaign when Democrats accused him of playing a role in the phone jamming.
Phone records from Tobin’s trial show he made two dozen calls to the White House political office right around Election Day 2002, as the phone-jamming operation was finalized, carried out and abruptly shut down.
The White House political office, recipient of most of the calls, was run in 2002 by Ken Mehlman. He has denied any calls were related to the jamming, contending the discussions focused only on the close election won by Sununu.