James Tobin’s Calls to the White House

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James Tobin, the RNC’s regional political director in 2002, was convicted for his part in orchestrating a scheme to jam Democrats’ phone lines on Election Day, 2002. Turns out he was in more or less constant contact with the White House Office of Political Affairs through much of that day. You figure the phone jamming effort ever came up in their many conversations?

Tobin’s and his fellow conspirators’ phone records were introduced as evidence at his trial, and for a long time, the Senate Majority Project has been busily analyzing them to figure out just who Tobin was speaking to.

They’re not done yet. But here’s what we can tell you from their preliminary analysis. Tobin called the White House Office of Political Affairs, which was run by now-RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, more than 75 times from Sept. 30 to Nov. 22 of 2002. That much was reported today in New Hampshire’s Union Leader. You can see the analysis that was based on here. He was also in touch with the White House on the day the phone-jamming was taking place.

First, a bit of backstory to catch everyone up. Chuck McGee, the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, hatched the plan in October of 2002 and brought in Tobin for help in carrying it out. Tobin brought in Allen Raymond of GOP Marketplace, who arranged for an Idaho call center to call Democratic phone lines and hang up repeatedly from 7:45 AM until 9:10 AM.

The question has always been if the scheme went any higher than that. As we mentioned earlier this week, the government thought that Tobin’s superior at the RNC, Terry Nelson, knew enough that he was placed on their witness list. And these phone records show that Tobin was very closely tapped in with the White House.

He called the White House twelve times on the day of the phone jamming, the first time at 11:20 AM — not long after Verizon intervened to shut down the scheme. The conversation was five minutes long. Do you think it ever came up?

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