Thursday, August 11, 2005
August 11, 2005
By John Solomon, Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Despite a zero-tolerance policy on tampering with voters, the Republican Party has quietly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide private defense lawyers for a former Bush campaign official charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting in New Hampshire.
James Tobin, the president's 2004 campaign chairman for New England, is charged in New Hampshire federal court with four felonies accusing him of conspiring with a state GOP official and a GOP consultant in Virginia to jam Democratic and labor union get-out-the-vote phone banks in November 2002.
A telephone firm was paid to make repeated hang-up phone calls to overwhelm the phone banks in New Hampshire and prevent them from getting Democratic voters to the polls on Election Day 2002, prosecutors allege. Republican John Sununu won a close race that day to be New Hampshire's newest senator. At the time, Tobin was the RNC's New England regional director, before moving to President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.
A top New Hampshire Party official and a GOP consultant already have pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors. Tobin's indictment accuses him of specifically calling the GOP consultant to get a telephone firm to help in the scheme.
"The object of the conspiracy was to deprive inhabitants of New Hampshire and more particularly qualified voters ... of their federally secured right to vote," states the latest indictment issued by a federal grand jury on May 18.
Since charges were first filed in December, the RNC has spent more than $722,000 to provide Tobin, who has pleaded innocent, a team of lawyers from the high-powered Washington law firm of Williams & Connolly.