Election phone jamming trial begins for former Republican Party official | VailDaily.com

Election phone jamming trial begins for former Republican Party official

CONCORD, N.H. – A former national Republican Party official played a key role in an Election Day 2002 phone jamming plot against New Hampshire Democrats, the prosecution said Tuesday during opening statements.James Tobin, President Bush’s onetime New England campaign chairman, is being tried on one federal count of conspiring against voters’ rights and several counts involving telephone harassment. He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.U.S. Attorney Andrew Levchuk said the state GOP’s former executive director, Chuck McGee, had Tobin’s blessing for the scheme as well as his help in the plot to disrupt Democratic get-out-the-vote phone banks and a nonpartisan ride-to-the-polls line.Tobin, 45, resigned as New England chairman of Bush’s 2004 campaign in October 2004 when the phone jamming accusations became public. Tobin also has been political director of the Republican National Committee.McGee, who admitted hatching the plot, completed a seven-month sentence for conspiracy. Another conspirator, Allen Raymond, also pleaded guilty for organizing the jamming, but wants a five-month sentence reduced in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors.Prosecutors claim McGee paid Raymond, former president of Alexandria, Va.-based GOP Marketplace LLC, $15,600 to arrange for hundreds of computer generated hang-up calls to jam phone banks in Claremont, Rochester and Manchester on Nov. 5, 2002.Dane Butswinkas, one of Tobin’s lawyers, on Tuesday warned jurors to be wary of Raymond’s motives when he testifies. “That five months is hanging over his head like a piano,” he said.McGee testified he couldn’t find anyone willing to carry out the phone jamming and asked Tobin for help about a week before Election Day.He said Tobin gave him Raymond’s phone number. “He just says give him a call,” McGee said.Vail, Colorado

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