Former northeastern US Republican campaign director charged with conspiracy

Monday, August 15, 2005 James Tobin, a Republican who worked as a regional political director for the RNC-affiliated National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, has been charged with conspiracy to deny New Hampshire Democrats the right to vote among three other conspiracy charges. Prosecuters say Tobin conspired with state GOP official Charles Mcgee and consultant Allen Raymond in Virginia, both of whom are cooperating with prosecutors, to have the consultant's telephone firm make repeated hang-up calls to Democratic and labor union get-out-the-vote phone banks, effectively jamming their phone lines. The New Hampshire Republican State Committee paid $15,600 to the firm. Callers requesting transportation to polling places were thus unable to receive any, allege prosecutors.

Republican John Sunonu won a close US Senate race in New Hampshire following the phone-jammings which occurred in November 2002.

The RNC has been paying Tobin's legal fees, which have so far amounted to $722,382. The RNC did not specify that the payments were for Tobin's defense in reports with the FEC, but has since confirmed that they were. RNC Chairperson Ken Mehlman said in a May 18, 2005 statement that he "strongly support[ed]" a "zero-tolerance policy" on election fraud.[1] Some have therefore criticized the GOP for making the payments to the powerful Williams and Connolly law firm. But on August 10, 2005, RNC spokesperson Tracey Schmitt said their support of Tobin through payment of his legal fees is "based on his assurance and our belief that Jim has not engaged in any wrongdoing."[2]

Tobin's involvement is said to have been finding the firm to make the calls. Raymond told prosecutors Tobin explained the scheme to him and asked him to implement it, and his lawyers said that he had believed Tobin was acting under RNC sanction in his then capacity as policial director for New England. Tobin went on to work for the president's re-election campaign.

Paul Tworney, a volunteer lawyer for New Hampshire Democrats said the RNC's actions suggested more people may be involved. "It originally appeared to us that there were just certain rogue elements of the Republican Party who were willing to do anything to win control of the U.S. Senate, including depriving Americans of their ability to vote. But now that the RNC actually is bankrolling Mr. Tobin's defense, coupled with the fact that it has refused some discovery in the civil case, really raises the questions of who are they protecting, how high does this go and who was in on this," said Twoney.[3]

The New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairperson Kathy Sullivan demanded that the state Republican Chairperson Warren Henderson resign.