2002 Election NH "Phone Jamming" Case

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The 2002 Election NH "phone jamming" case revolves around the hiring by the New Hampshire Republican Party of the Virginia-based telemarketing firm GOP Marketplace. Republican operative Allen Raymond, who was president of the firm at the time, then "subcontracted the deed" to Mylo Enterprises Inc., a Pocatello, Idaho, phone bank shop. [1][2]

Prosecutors allege that 'GOP Marketplace' "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, November 5, 2002. Six phone lines that were being run by Democratic "coordinated campaign offices," as well as phones in the offices of the Manchester firefighters union -- which was also doing a get-out-the-vote campaign that morning -- were jammed by 800 computer-generated hang up calls that tied up the lines for 1 1/2 hours. [3][4]

Voters' rights were violated as the "computer-generated calls went to lines set up for voters who needed rides to the polls in Manchester, Nashua, Rochester and Claremont." The calls were "stopped after then-Republican State Committee Chairman John Dowd ordered a halt because of concerns about their legality." [5]


Status of the Case

As of April 14, 2006: [6]

  • The Washington, DC-based Democratic activist group Senate Majority Project recently "uncovered 22 calls from New Hampshire officials to the White House political office on Nov. 5-6, 2002. During the same time, according to prosecutors, state GOP officials started -- and then frantically sought to stop -- a plan to have a telemarketer bombard the phone banks of Democrats and a local firefighters association that was offering voters rides to the polls."
  • Kenneth B. Mehlman, "former director of the White House political office and current chairman of the Republican National Committee is fighting Democratic efforts to force him to testify under oath in a civil suit about the New Hampshire scandal. Mehlman said the calls from James Tobin ... were for the White House to get the latest information about a close race, which would be unexceptional on election night. He said none of the calls to him or his staff involved the phone-jamming operation."
  • "the RNC has paid more than $2.5 million in legal fees incurred by Tobin"
  • "Kathy Sullivan, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said she is unwilling to accept Mehlman's assurances. She cited a sequence of events as the phone-jamming case unfolded starting in February 2003, in which Republican officials repeatedly changed their version of events as new evidence emerged."

As of March 10, 2005:

  • Charles McGee pleaded guilty in federal court "to conspiring to make anonymous calls to annoy or harass. He also was fined $2,000 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. He faced up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. ... McGee resigned in 2003 after police alerted federal prosecutors to the phone-jamming operation. He denied any wrongdoing at the time. He later admitted paying $15,600 to a Virginia telemarketing company that hired another business to call get-out-the-vote phone banks around the state." [7] (In 2006, McGee resurfaced to lead a GOP candidate workshop in New Hampshire. [8] In 2008, McGee surfaced once more in New Hampshire politics when his firm, Spectrum Marketing Companies, received more than $90,000 from Jeb Bradley's ultimately unsuccessful challenge to Carol Shea-Porter [D, NH-1] for her seat in Congress. [9])
  • "James Tobin, the former Northeast political director of the national party committee working to elect Republican senators, also is charged in the case. Prosecutors say he orchestrated the jamming. Tobin has pleaded innocent." [10]
  • "Allen Raymond, who was president of the Alexandria, Va.-based GOP Marketplace LLC at the time, pleaded guilty to hiring a firm from Idaho to make the calls. He was sentenced earlier this year to five months in prison." [11]

As of October 10, 2005, "James Tobin, who then worked as the Northeast political director for Bill Frist's National Republican Senatorial Committee and the RNC, is now awaiting trial for his role in the scheme." [12]

On December 15, 2005, James Tobin was convicted on telephone harassment charges "for his part in a plot to jam the Democrats' phones on Election Day 2002." Tobin was acquitted by the federal jury on "the most serious charge against him, of conspiring to violate voters' rights." Tobin will be sentenced March 2006 and "could get up seven years in prison and $500,000 in fines." [13]

Sununu vs Shaheen

To refresh his memory in February 2003, Josh Marshall "went back and looked up the point spread on Senator John Sununu's close-call victory over out-going Governor Jeanne Shaheen. He won with 51% to her 47% with a Libertarian candidate picking up the other 2%. Honestly, that's too big a spread to overcome with solid phone banking, especially because this effort seemed to get cut short after a couple hours when Verizon intervened." [14] "But cheating isn't okay just because you probably would have won anyway. What's more, was the New Hampshire GOP really the only state party getting these services from 'GOP Marketplace'? This sounds like an 'innovation' that a go-getter firm like 'GOP Marketplace' would want to peddle all over the place. There were a lot of close races last November. Did this happen anywhere else? Who else got help from 'GOP Marketplace'?," Marshall asked.

Campaign Contributions

In his research, Marshall noted "two entries in the New Hampshire GOP's receipts ledger in the days just before the phone-jamming plan came off. $5000 a pop from two of Jack Abramoff's main piggy banks": Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Palm Springs, CA, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Choctaw, MS, on October 28, 2002.

There was another $5,000 contribution in the ledger dated November 1, 2002, by the Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, also known as ARMPAC, former House Majority Leader Thomas D. DeLay's leadership committee.

According to Federal Election Commission records, ARMPAC contributed another $5,000 to the NHRP on October 4, 2002, and FEC records also show John E. Sununu receiving another $5,000 from ARMPAC via "Team Sununu" in 2002.

"What you have here is the sound of two scandals colliding," New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan said in October 2005.

The ledger also showed:

The NRCC only contributed $19.30 directly to John E. Sununu's campaign in 1997 and, as of 2002, the NRSC contributed nothing at all.

Democratic party lawsuit

The New Hampshire Republican State Committee, Republican National Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee settled a lawsuit brought against them by the Democratic party on December 2, 2006. They paid a $135,000 settlement. Democrats had originally sued for more than $4 million in damaged for the cost of the seven months of operation of the get out the vote operation. The Republicans had argued that they only had to pay $4,000 for the cost of the phones. The NHRSC will pay $125,000 over five years and the RNC and NRSCC will each pay $5,000. [15]

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