One More Nail in the GOP Coffin:
Republicans paying legal bills of Bush campaign official accused of voter suppression
By JOHN SOLOMON Associated Press Writer
(AP) - WASHINGTON-The Republican Party has quietly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide private defense lawyers for a former Bush campaign official charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting in one northeastern state's Senate race.
James Tobin, President George W. Bush's 2004 campaign chairman for the northeastern U.S., is charged with four felonies accusing him of conspiring with two other Republican officials to jam Democratic and labor union get-out-the-vote phone banks ahead of 2002 elections.
A telephone firm was paid to make repeated hang-up phone calls to overwhelm the phone banks in the state of New Hampshire and prevent them from getting Democratic voters to the polls on Election Day 2002, prosecutors allege. Republican John Sununu won a close race that day to be New Hampshire's newest senator.
At the time, Tobin was the party's northeastern regional director, before moving to President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.
A top Republican Party official in New Hampshire and a Republican consultant already have pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors. Their testimony directly implicates Tobin.
"The object of the conspiracy was to deprive inhabitants of New Hampshire and more particularly qualified voters ... of their federally secured right to vote," says the latest indictment issued in May.
Since charges were first filed in December, the Republican National Committee has spent more than $722,000 to provide Tobin, who has pleaded innocent, a team of lawyers from the high-powered Washington law firm of Williams & Connolly.
Political parties have wide latitude on how they spend their money, including on lawyers.
Republican Party officials confirmed to The Associated Press they had agreed to underwrite Tobin's defense because he was a longtime supporter and that he assured them he had committed no crimes.
"Jim is a longtime friend who has served as both an employee and an independent contractor for the RNC," a spokeswoman for the RNC, Tracey Schmitt, said Wednesday. "This support is based on his assurance and our belief that Jim has not engaged in any wrongdoing."
The Republican Party has repeatedly and pointedly disavowed any tactics aimed at keeping citizens from voting since allegations of voter suppression surfaced during the Florida recount in 2000 that tipped the presidential race to Bush.
Earlier this week, RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, the former White House political director, reiterated a "zero-tolerance policy" for any Republican official caught trying to block legitimate votes.
Paul Twomey, a volunteer lawyer for New Hampshire Democrats who are pursuing a separate lawsuit involving the phone scheme, said he was surprised the RNC was willing to pay Tobin's legal bills and that it suggested more people may be involved.
"It originally appeared to us that there were just certain rogue elements of the Republican Party who were willing to do anything to win control of the U.S. Senate, including depriving Americans of their ability to vote," Twomey said.
"But now that the RNC actually is bankrolling Mr. Tobin's defense, coupled with the fact that it has refused some discovery in the civil case, really raises the questions of who are they protecting, how high does this go and who was in on this," Twomey said."
Wow! Makes me want to send in my contribution to the GOP.
Too bad I've already spent all my charitable money on the pedophile Catholic Priests' legal defense fund.