Election Hijinks

This is cute:

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. The firm’s other clients include Bill and Hillary Clinton and former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros.

Oddly enough, the ‘non-partisan’ American Center for Voting Rights had no mention of this in their latest report.






27 replies
  1. 1
    Bruce from Missouri says:

    Republicans engaged in voter supression!?!?

    No!!! Tell me it ain’t so!

  2. 2
    Rome Again says:

    Republican Party officials said they don’t ordinarily discuss specifics of their legal work, but confirmed to The Associated Press they had agreed to underwrite Tobin’s defense because he was a longtime supporter and that he assured them he had committed no crimes.

    Perhaps they should curb their willingness to trust those who say they’ve “commited no crimes”. Most people who commit crimes are not willing to admit it. DUH!

    Tobin’s lawyers have attacked the prosecution, suggesting evidence was improperly introduced to the grand jury, that their client originally had been promised he wouldn’t be indicted and that he was improperly charged under one of the statutes.

    Anyone who needs that sort of promise is most likely guilty.

  3. 3
    Marcos says:

    The system is stacked against voters in dense urban areas (who tend to be Democrats) versus voters in suburban and rural areas (who tend to be Republican). The suburban and rural voters get more voting machines and poll workers per capita than urban areas. I clearly remember the images of those voters in Ohio standing in line out in the cold rain long after dark. Some of those places had 8+ hour waits. It’s not fair and the sytem needs to be reformed.

  4. 4
    Geek, Esq. says:

    Is it just me, or does defense counsel have a potential conflict o’interest here? He’s being paid to represent a defendant by a potential co-conspirator.

  5. 5
    jcricket says:

    The system is stacked against voters in dense urban areas (who tend to be Democrats) versus voters in suburban and rural areas (who tend to be Republican). The suburban and rural voters get more voting machines and poll workers per capita than urban areas. I clearly remember the images of those voters in Ohio standing in line out in the cold rain long after dark. Some of those places had 8+ hour waits. It’s not fair and the sytem needs to be reformed.

    That’s one of the stronger arguments for moving to a “vote by mail” system for everyone. Vote by mail is distributed (no single point of failure), favors neither the rich nor poor, urban nor rural, vastly reduces issues with training the mostly volunteer poll-workers and has a built-in paper trail. There are only two downsides (as I see it): One, the increased possibility of voter fraud; And two, still using optical scan ballots creates issues with poorly filled out ballots, divining voter intent, etc.

    Personally, I don’t think #1 has been proven particularly burdensome to solve/deal with in most states that already do vote by mail. And #2 can be solved with a little technological ingenuity. For example, create a voting system where you only get one envelope by mail, and then give people the option to fill out a ballot using an official web site and print it out at home (or use the hand-printed ballot). The single envelope (with control codes) prevents duplicate vote submission, and printed ballots reduces/eliminates poor handwriting, partially filled-out ovals, etc. No need to “store” the information in the ballots in the online system, which reduces security issues that exist with current touch-screen voting systems.

    You could even create kiosks at public libraries and government buildings for people to fill out the ballots (for those that don’t have computers).

    Oregon’s vote-by-mail. Washington state is moving to it. Sure, we lose “Voting Day” and “Polling Places”, but gain a centralized, easy-to-observe, auditable, convienent and consistent system.

  6. 6
    jcricket says:

    Forgot to include the obligatory snark at Republicans: This story proves, once again, that most Republican “criticisms” of Democrats are really just a case of projection.

  7. 7
    neil says:

    It should really be noted that James Tobin’s defense is not that he didn’t do the things he is accused of doing. His defense is that _they weren’t illegal_.

    Josh Marshall thinks that the reason they are paying is because if Tobin was thrown to the wolves, he would start fingering his bosses.

  8. 8
    gratefulcub says:

    Why was he made the 2004 campaign chairman for New England?

    For a job well done in 2002.

  9. 9
    Geek, Esq. says:

    Can anyone deny that the National Republican Party is a criminal syndicate?

  10. 10
    adk46er says:

    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

    Tobin may be entitled to defend himself as best he can, but the RNC can’t claim to have a zero tolerance policy while paying almost 3/4 of a million dollars to help him… this story definitely meets all the requirements of republican stupidity.

  11. 11
    Maureen Hay says:

    jcricket – Have you ever had in-city mail delivery? Can be so bad that everyone has their personal mail sent to work. If I had something important coming, I’d have it sent to Grandma in the suburbs and take the bus to go get it.

  12. 12
    jg says:

    Can anyone deny that the National Republican Party is a criminal syndicate?

    I’ve said before that the people in charge right now are running this country the way Tony Soprano ran the sporting goods store he ‘won’ in a card game.

  13. 13
    Geek, Esq. says:

    I’ve said before that the people in charge right now are running this country the way Tony Soprano ran the sporting goods store he ‘won’ in a card game.

    America is David Scatino? Scary.

  14. 14
    BARRASSO says:

    I disagree with the Sopranos analogy, America is more like a man from Washington state and the government is a horse, we wanted it at first but the results are more than we can handle.

  15. 15
    Rick says:

    I’ll deny that the RNC is a crime syndicate, since the mob has traditionally been an Democratic constituency. For those urban and corruption reasons.

    Nonetheless, impressive ‘pubbie skullduggery–jamming enemy signals. If Dick Tuck had done it (and maybe he has), it’d be called “a prank.”

    Cordially…

  16. 16
    John S. says:

    I’ll deny that the RNC is a crime syndicate, since the mob has traditionally been an Democratic constituency.

    This seems like a non-denial denial. Just because you have this notion that crime syndicates traditionally vote Democratic doesn’t prove that the GOP themselves aren’t a crime syndicate.

    And if they are a crime syndicate, we can be sure that they are one of the few that won’t be voting Democratic anytime soon.

  17. 17
    Geek, Esq. says:

    Let’s see here now:

    We have the Abramoff family.

    We have the DeLay family.

    We have the Rove family.

    We have the Mehlman/RNC family.

    Imagine if the journos covered this using the analogies:

    “Kenneth Tobin, a capo in the RNC crime family . . .

  18. 18
    bains says:

    “The object of the conspiracy was to deprive inhabitants of New Hampshire and more particularly qualified voters … of their federally secured right to vote…”

    There I was, ready to go out and vote, but the local GOTV people never called…

    I wuz deprived!

  19. 19
    Kathleen says:

    ah Bains. If GOTV is so stupid, what the hell were Tobin and cronies doing?

  20. 20

    GOP Picks Up Tab For Accused Bush Official

    A former Bush campaign official charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting in New Hampshire is having his legal bills paid — with a little help fr…

  21. 21
    DougJ says:

    The Democrats have been stealing elections for years. They engage is systematic widespread voter fraud in election after election. But the Republicans do one little thing — a prank, really, nothing much more — and it’s a federal offense. I swear the RINOs will use any excuse to break the 11th.

  22. 22
    Jerry says:

    Since I assume you are still a Republican, what are YOU planning on doing about this?

    (interesting editor clicky thing — it actually appears to work in firefox (while tpmcafe’s does not.))

  23. 23
    DougJ says:

    Why doesn’t Tobin deserve legal representation? If he were a crackhead or a murderer, you’d be all for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to help defend him, maybe even get him off on a technicality. But since he committed the most horrible crime in your eyes, the crime of being a loyal republican, you want him thrown in jail without a trial, in effect. Typical liberal hypocrisy.

  24. 24
    Bruce says:

    No, Doug, you are missing the point. Tobin deserves every bit as much legal representation as he can afford. If he cannot afford legal representation, the state will appoint one for him just as they do for indigent “crackheads and murderers.” The point is that the RNC (who, by the way, Tobin did not work for, is covering his legal bills. This leads one to wonder (well, one whose head is not up his ass,) “Why is the RNC covering for him?” Why would they spend all that money if they do not stand to lose anything?

  25. 25
    DougJ says:

    Bruce, I see what you are saying.

    BUT it’s pretty clear that some librul prosecutors have it in for Tobin and he needs some help from his friends. Just because he made a little mistake doesn’t mean he should be left to the wolves.

  26. 26
    d says:

    DougJ, since Tobin was indicted by a federal grand jury, do the “librul prosecutors” you refer to include:

    “Thomas P. Colantuono is the United States Attorney for the District of New Hampshire, having been nominated by President George W. Bush in December, 2001. ”

    See: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nh/

  27. 27
    sean mccray says:

    jcricket
    please stop the silliness.
    first, just showing a number of machines per capita isnt not proof that it is more difficult to vote in urban areas. What about number of registered voters per booth, and how close booths are to their homes. I would bet a lot of money that rural voters have an average distance that is farther than the average urban voter.
    As a person who has lived most my life in urban areas, and in OHIO,I have never stood in a line for any period of time past 30 minutes. I have seen voting booths on damn near every corner.
    The long lines in OHIO, which occured in other states and in rural areas also, were very rare even in urban areas. Not ONE person I know (all urban living and Democratic voting OHIOANS)had a single problem, or had to wait any length of time. sorry, hate to destroy you guys “ohio was a mess” excuse fest. Considering that most of the urban areas are run by democrats, and the county and local election boards are run by democrats, it would seem to be pretty stupid for Dems to suppress their own vote.

    I just love the way you guys have turned an accusation into corruption. LOL. This was about jamming phone bank lines…give me a break. This is what the govt prosecutes when it is too incompetent to prosecute real corruption.

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  1. GOP Picks Up Tab For Accused Bush Official

    A former Bush campaign official charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting in New Hampshire is having his legal bills paid — with a little help fr…

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