Feds ask for 2 years for Tobin


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Federal prosecutors have asked that a former Republican National Committee official convicted in an Election Day phone jamming scheme be sentenced to up to two years in prison.

James Tobin, of Bangor, Maine, faced up to seven years in prison and a $500,000 fine after his conviction in December on two telephone harassment charges.

Tobin is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday. His lawyers have asked for a new trial.

Tobin, 45, stepped down as New England chairman of President Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004 when Democrats accused him of playing a role in the jamming on Election Day 2002, when Republican John Sununu won a hotly contested U.S. Senate race against then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.

At the time of the jamming, Tobin was serving as regional political director for the RNC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, overseeing Senate campaigns in several states, including New Hampshire and Maine.

The scheme jammed get-out-the-vote phone lines set up by the state Democratic Party and the Manchester firefighters’ union for about an hour with more than 800 hang-up calls.

“Overcome by his desire for success in the election, Tobin exercised his considerable authority to make the phone jamming scheme succeed, rather than stop it,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing document posted late on Wednesday. Messages left Thursday with defense lawyers in Concord and Washington, D.C., were not immediately returned.

A jury acquitted Tobin of a third, more serious charge that he conspired against voters’ rights.

The jamming has led to four criminal prosecutions, a civil lawsuit and a recent flurry of political attacks.

The two people who pleaded guilty to criminal charges are Charles McGee, executive director of the state Republican Party in 2002, and Allen Raymond, then head of GOP Marketplace, a telemarketing firm in Alexandria, Va. Both testified against Tobin at his trial.

Tobin was convicted of putting McGee in touch with Raymond, who hired another telemarketing firm to actually place the hundreds of hang-up calls. A co-owner of that firm at the time, Shaun Hansen, of Spokane, Wash., was indicted in March.