Thursday, March 15, 2012

RoboGate:Bush DOJ Prosecuted GOP Official for Illegal Robocalls, Will Holder?


Eric Holder’s Department of Justice did not respond to two telephone inquiries made by’s as to whether or not there would be a prosecutorial probe into the illegal ‘Rush’ robocalls that flooded highly contested districts targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The Holder Justice Department's failure to immediately respond to the emerging scandal contrasts the aggressive prosecutorial response from the Bush administration against the former president’s own operative, James Tobin. Tobin was the New England chairman for Bush-Cheney 04’, and was accused of telephone harassment and jamming the Democratic Party’s phones on Election Day in 2002.
Tobin was regional director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, whom on election day orchestrated a series of computerized hang up calls, which jammed phone lines established by the New Hampshire Democratic Party and the Manchester’s firefighter’s union.
In the midst of the hotly contested race between Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican John E. Sununu more than 800 phone calls were dispatched to a get-out-the-vote phone bank in only two hours, and the incident quickly became known as the 2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal.
Sununu ended up winning the race by more than 20,000 votes.
Phone records proved that Tobin made two-dozen calls to the White House Office of Political Affairs within only three days around Election Day 2002. Although communication between that office and the president’s campaign is to be expected, the calls sparked additional attention at the time.
As a result of the Justice Department’s prosecution under Bush, the RNC had to spend $722,000 for Tobin’s defense using the Washington, D.C. based law firmWilliams & Connolly, which gained fame and notoriety for its previous defense of President Clinton. A trial began in 2004 and Charles McGee former Executive Director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, Shaun Hansen of a telemarketing firm called GOP Marketplace, Allen Raymond, GOP Marketplace’s former presidential pleaded guilty to conspiracy in federal court.
Tobin was convicted on one count of placing McGee in contact with Raymond, but was acquitted of conspiring to violate voters’ rights. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison, two years of probation and $10,000 in fines. Tobin’s conviction was actually reversed on appeal in March 2007 by a federal appeals court because the statute he was convicted under was “not a close fit” for Tobin’s actual actions.
Because the appeals court remanded the case for trial, a second federal indictment was issued on October 13, 2008 for making false statements to the FBI in connection with the phone-jamming debacle. A federal judge dismissed those charges after they were found to be the result of “vindictive prosecution.” will continuing monitoring the story to see if Eric Holder and Obama's DOJ are as vigilant as the Bush Administration in protecting the electoral process.

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