On Friday we told you the story, first reported in The Manchester Union Leader, of how the New Hampshire Republican party hired a Northern Virginia telemarketing outfit -- GOP Marketplace -- to jam the phone banks at the offices of the New Hampshire Democratic Coordinated Campaign and the Manchester Firefighters' Union Local on election day last November.
Both phone banks were being used that morning for get-out-the-vote efforts.
According to the Union Leader, GOP Marketplace hired Idaho-based Milo Enterprises to place repeated five-second-and-hang-up calls to the phone banks' numbers, thus effectively shutting them down on election day. After a few hours, Verizon stepped in and shut the operation down.
Now, what is GOP Marketplace? And who is its founder Allen Raymond.
We've had a hard time getting Raymond or anyone else from GOP Marketplace on the phone. That may not be surprising, given the fact that the Union Leader article suggests the company may be the target of a state, and possibly a federal, law enforcement investigation centering on the phone jamming incident.
In any case, we called GOP Marketplace and were asked to leave a message with Chris Cupit. So far we haven't heard back. According to a slew of articles in The Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, and Austin American-Statesman, Cupit is a long-time associate and sometime consultant and/or spokesman for former Congressman Steve Stockman. Stockman, a one-term-wonder elected in 1994, was generally regarded as the fringiest and loopiest of the Republicans' '94 class.
Back in the glory days of the Republican Revolution, according to two articles which ran in The Hill in May 1996, Cupit ran a consulting firm called Political Won Stop, which did a lot of work for Stockman and also happened to run out of Stockman's house. (The FEC later meted out a $40,000 fine to Stockman for shenanigans related to the Political Won Stop operation.) During the same campaign, according to an October 30th, 1996 article in The Houston Chronicle Cupit was also Stockman's campaign manager. So clearly he's sort of a jack-of-all-trades.
At TPM, though, we're more curious about Allen Raymond, GOP Marketplace's founder. His political associations seem to rest on the other side of the Republican aisle. At least most of the time ...
In addition to having a long history in Republican politics, he also turns out to the be Executive Director of the Republican Leadership Council, a centrist Republican pressure group modeled on the Democratic Leadership Council (no one accused them of being creative with the name).
The names are the same. And when we called the RLC's offices early this afternoon the guy who answered the phone was kind enough to confirm that the RLC's Allen Raymond and GOP Marketplace's Allen Raymond are, in fact, one and the same person.
The RLC's website lists its president as former Congressman Dick Zimmer and its Advisory Board as including ...
Senator Robert Bennett
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell
Senator Susan Collins
The Honorable Alfonse M. D`Amato
Senator Pete V. Domenici
Congressman David Dreier
Governor John Engler
Congressman Mark Foley
Congressman Bob Franks
Congressman Jim Greenwood
Congresswoman Nancy Johnson
The Honorable Thomas H. Kean
Senator Jon L. Kyl
The Honorable John McKernan
Senator Frank H. Murkowski
The Honorable Bill Paxon
Congresswoman Deborah Pryce
Congressman Jack Quinn
Governor John G. Rowland
Senator Olympia Snowe
Senator Arlen Specter
Congressman Fred Upton
The Honorable William F. Weld
Governor Christine Todd Whitman
The Honorable Pete Wilson
Now, my question is still this: using one phone bank to knock out another phone bank doesn't sound like an idea that a clever operative would pitch to just one campaign or state party. I think whoever came up with that bright idea would want to, shall we say, spread around the love.
The Manchester Union Leader says that GOP Marketplace got the job done for the New Hampshire Republican party. So who else did GOP Marketplace work for in 2002? There were a lot of close races last year...