« Cambridge White Geese | Main | Charlie Shannon's widow endorses Mackey »

August 15, 2005

RNC is bankrolling legal defense of the architect of New Hampshire vote suppression

One of the sleaziest stories about voting shenanigans to hit New England (or, really, anywhere) in some time was the successful effort of New Hampshire Republican operatives to jam phone lines on election day 2002 (on which a close US Senate race, among others, was at stake), thereby preventing New Hampshire Democrats from reaching voters who wanted rides to the polls.  This sort of activity, of course, is illegal.  Two of the conspirators (Charles McGee, then-head of the NH GOP, and Allen Raymond, who ran the Virginia-based telephone firm that did the actual jamming) have already pled guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors, who now have their sights set on James Tobin, the then-regional director of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and later New England coordinator for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign.  Tobin has been indicted by a federal grand jury and faces significant jail time if convicted.

Turns out, however, that the Republican National Committee has been quietly funding Tobin's defense - to the tune of over $700,000 so far, mostly to the Washington powerhouse law firm of Williams & Connolly.  Clearly, the RNC is sparing no expense to clear this scumbag's name. 

What's especially hilarious about this whole thing is that less than one week ago, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman released this letter in which he piously proclaims a "zero-tolerance" policy for election shenanigans among Republicans, declaring that "we will not tolerate fraud; we will not tolerate intimidation; we will not intimidate suppression."  Well, ha ha ha.  Asked about the apparent, uh, inconsistency between the letter and the bankrolling of fraudster Tobin's gold-plated defense team, an RNC flack explained that Tobin is a "longtime friend" of the RNC who has given the RNC his "assurance" that he did nothing wrong. Ah, well in that case I guess it's OK to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to get him off the hook for wrongdoing that everyone knows he was involved in.  This is such a mind-bogglingly pathetic explanation that I can't think of anything clever to say - no witticism could possibly make it seem more outrageous than it actually is.

I also like this excerpt from the news report linked above:

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

If that's the best Tobin's fancy lawyers can muster, he's got big trouble.  Those "attacks" on the prosecution have nothing to do with guilt or innocence - they're just technicalities.  So Tobin's supposed assurance to the RNC that he committed no crimes looks more like a big "WINK WINK" than anything else.

Nearly a quarter of a million dollars - so far - to defend this guy.  The RNC's shameless hypocrisy, and its utter contempt for the most basic elements of a functioning democracy, are truly stunning.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall notes that any argument that the RNC was contractually or otherwise obligated to defend this guy doesn't hold up, since the RNC and the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (Tobin's then-employer, at the time run by Bill Frist) are separate.  Something deeper and more rancid seems to be in play here than a simple contractual duty to defend.

Posted by David at 12:51 AM in National | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference RNC is bankrolling legal defense of the architect of New Hampshire vote suppression:

» Crooks and More Crooks from Left In Lowell
I’ve been thinking about writing about the RNC and their monetary support of James Tobin, who is being prosecuted for his scheme to illegally jam NH Democratic phone lines in 2002 that voters were to use to get free rides to the polls on electio... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 15, 2005 11:12:26 AM


No entity is required to pay "criminal defense" costs.

Posted by: The troll | Aug 15, 2005 7:49:28 AM

Any chance this story will gain traction in NH between now and November 2006, thereby helping the Dems to maintain their recent gains in the state and maybe even continue to make inroads at a senate seat on of these elections?

Posted by: stomv | Aug 15, 2005 8:44:38 AM

This story has little effect on voters. Scumbags on all sides. Remeber Cam Kerry?
Spend time on other efforts. This has very very very little effect on vote

Posted by: The troll | Aug 15, 2005 9:31:22 AM

That's probably right, though one of the theories floating around as to why the RNC is spending a lot of money defending this guy - remember, officially the RNC has cut ties with Tobin over the NH shenanigans - is that otherwise he will begin shooting off his mouth about how the whole operation was authorized by much higher-ups in the GOP. Maybe too many tinfoil hats floating around, but it's an appealing theory. (I mean, really, he's a "friend" who has "assured" us he didn't do anything wrong?? What a crock.)

Posted by: David | Aug 15, 2005 9:55:35 AM

Good. Let them waste money defending this scumbag. A dollar spent here is a dollar they can't spend on actual races. If the RNC has to turn into the Corrupt Republican Legal Defense Fund, so much the better for the Democrats.

Posted by: sco | Aug 15, 2005 10:31:02 AM

Hush money is probably right on..
much like hsh money Coke paid Deval Patrick
Sorry, couldn't resist.

Posted by: The troll | Aug 15, 2005 11:10:47 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.