Thursday, March 23, 2006

Did White House Direct Phone Jamming Scheme?

US NEWSWIRE; 3/23/2006 7:22:00 PM
Contact: Damien LaVera of DNC Public Affairs at (202) 863-8148

WASHINGTON, March 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A new report suggests that the national Republican establishment--including the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and even the Bush White House -- may have had a role in the criminal Election Day phone jamming scheme that disenfranchised countless New Hampshire voters in 2002.

The Union Leader today reported that "court records show Ken Mehlman's office received more than 75 telephone calls from now-convicted phone-jam conspirator James Tobin from Sept. 30 to Nov. 22 of that year." At the time, Mehlman -- the current RNC Chair -- was White House political director. (Union Leader, 3/23/06) This raises the disturbing question of whether Tobin, who worked for the RNC and the NRSC at the time and has since been convicted on two criminal charges for his role in the scheme, discussed the plan with one of the President's most important political strategists.

Today's news also has important implications for other national Republican figures. At the time the phone jamming scheme was devised and implemented, Tobin's supervisor at the RNC was Terry Nelson, who Arizona Republican Senator John McCain recently hired as a senior strategist for his Political Action Committee. This means that McCain may have hired one of the key figures in the phone jamming scheme.

"Each new development in this case raises troubling questions about the extent to which key national Republicans had knowledge of or were involved in a criminal scheme to keep New Hampshire voters from getting to the polls," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Luis Miranda. "The revelation that, in the days leading up to the phone-jamming campaign, Ken Mehlman spoke regularly with a man who has been convicted of criminal charges in this case raises deeply disturbing questions about the Bush White House's commitment to protecting fundamental right of Americans to vote.

"The American people have a right to know whether the White House political director had a hand in building an Election Day game plan predicated on keeping people from voting. And they need to know why John McCain is turning a blind eye to the role one of his closest advisors may have played in this scandal. Democrats will continue to fight to protect every Americans' right to cast their vote and have their ballots counted."

McCain Strategist Terry Nelson Supervised James Tobin During NH Phone Jamming Scandal; Tobin Convicted of Federal Telephone Harassment Charges. Tobin worked for the RNC and the NRSC during 2002, and was supervised by RNC Political Director Terry Nelson. On Election Day, a telemarketer hired by the New Hampshire GOP jammed the telephones of five state Democratic and one firefighters union get-out-the-vote phone banks. James Tobin was found guilty in December of federal telephone harassment charges for his role in the scandal. (Manchester Union Leader, 10/20/05; Union Leader, 3/23/06)

Tobin Called The White House Office of Political Affairs 75 Times In Six Weeks. "In the days before and after the state Republican Party's 2002 Election Day phone-jamming scheme, the man who now chairs the Republican National Committee was the White House director of political affairs. Ken Mehlman's office received more than 75 telephone calls from now-convicted phone-jam conspirator James Tobin from Sept. 30 to Nov. 22 of that year." (Union Leader, 3/23/06)

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