Former GOP aide faces sentence for phone-jamming


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – A former Republican National Committee official convicted in an Election Day phone-jamming plot against New Hampshire Democrats faces up to seven years in prison at his scheduled sentencing today.

James Tobin of Bangor, Maine, was found guilty in December on two telephone harassment charges. He also faces up to a $500,000 fine. His lawyers have asked for a new trial, and on Monday, they filed a motion objecting to a sentencing document filed by prosecutors.

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. That’s 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 last week.

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.

The state Democratic Party is trying to learn more about who did what and with whom in a civil lawsuit in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

The Republicans have asked a judge to dismiss the suit, which alleges that the jamming violated voters’ rights.