James Tobin (political operative)

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James Tobin was President George W. Bush's New England campaign chairman. He was convicted on December 15, 2005, of telephone harassment "for his part in a plot to jam the Democratic Party's phones on Election Day 2002". However, this conviction was later overturned by a federal appeals court and Tobin was acquitted on all charges.

As New England campaign chairman for Bush-Cheney '04 Inc., Tobin stepped down two weeks before the election when state Democrats accused him of involvement in a phone-jamming scheme on Election Day 2002. Tobin was later indicted for conspiracy.

Tobin served as national political director for publisher Steve Forbes' Presidential campaign. He is an employee of the Washington, D.C.-based DCI Group and also has his own consulting firm, Tobin & Co., based in Bangor, Maine. During the 2004 election cycle he was a Bush Ranger, raising at least $200,000 for the Bush 2004 reelection effort.[1]

Phone jamming incident[edit]

In November 2002, Tobin was regional director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. On election day, computerized hang-up calls jammed phone lines set up by the New Hampshire Democratic Party and the Manchester firefighters' union. Over 800 phone calls were made to a get-out-the-vote phone bank over the course of two hours. This became known as the 2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal. The United States Senate contest in New Hampshire was between Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Rep. John E. Sununu. Sununu won by about 20,000 votes.

Tobin and NSRCC political director Chris LaCivita had worked together at DCI Group, a Washington GOP lobbying and public relations firm, along with Brian McCabe, a GOP activist who formerly worked in several roles in New Hampshire, including as a campaign manager for former U.S. Rep. Bill Zeliff. At the time, the NSRCC was chaired by then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.[2]

Phone records show Tobin made two dozen calls to the White House Office of Political Affairs within a three-day period around Election Day 2002. A number of observers have noted that contact between the White House Office of Political Affairs and presidential campaign staff is historically commonplace for Democratic and Republican administrations.


During the summer of 2004, Charles McGee, former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and admitted paying $15,600 to an Alexandria, Virginia telemarketing company, GOP Marketplace, that hired another business to make the calls. A co-owner of that firm at the time, Shaun Hansen, was indicted in March. Republican consultant Allen Raymond, GOP Marketplace's former president, also pleaded guilty in the summer to a conspiracy charge in federal court.[3]

Tobin was convicted of putting McGee in touch with Raymond,[4] but was acquitted by the federal jury on conspiring to violate voters' rights. He was sentenced on May 17, 2006, to 10 months in prison, two years probation, and $10,000 in fines.[5]

During Tobin's trial, questions arose about the source of the money involved in funding the phone jamming and his defense.

RNC defense[edit]

In August, the RNC confirmed that it had spent more than $722,000 for Tobin's defense by the Washington, D.C. firm of Williams & Connolly. "This support is based on his assurance and our belief that Jim has not engaged in any wrongdoing", a spokesperson told the Associated Press.[6] The Union Leader reported in February 2006 that the RNC had paid $1.7 million to Williams on the day Tobin was sentenced, for a total of $2.5 million, and would neither confirm nor deny that it was still paying his legal expenses.[7] The RNC's first financial report of 2006 indicated that it by then spent another $330,000.[8]

Later that year, Tobin's wife and her partner, a long time New England political operative, were hired by the Lincoln Chafee campaign as consultants on the unsuccessful re-election campaign of Rhode Island senator Lincoln Chafee, as Northeast Strategies, a company that listed the Tobins' home as its main address. Tobin, who had worked on two previous high profile campaigns in Maine, and her partner who had managed six previous campaigns were paid $300,000 to consult on the campaign. Of that, $260,000 went to paying for the mail for the Chafee campaign.[9]

Conviction reversed on appeal[edit]

Tobin's conviction was overturned in March 2007 by a federal appeals court. United States v. Tobin, 480 F.3d 53 (1st Cir.2007). The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled that the statute under which Tobin was convicted "is not a close fit" for what Tobin did and questioned whether the government showed that Tobin intended to harass. It remanded the case for retrial, rather than acquit Tobin as his lawyers had asked. The court of appeals later affirmed the dismissal of the charges, notwithstanding Tobin's “thoroughly bad” conduct. United States v. Tobin, 552 F.3d 29, 34 (1st Cir. 2009).[10]

Dismissal of second indictment[edit]

Tobin was indicted on October 13, 2008, for making false statements to the FBI in connection with the bureau's investigation of a phone-jamming scheme in New Hampshire in 2002.[11]

These charges were dismissed in 2009 after the federal judge in Maine's District Court found them to be barred by the "vindictive prosecution" doctrine.[12] The judge held that the government could not overcome the legal presumption that the post-appeal charges arising from the same conduct were "vindictive" under United States v. Goodwin, 457 U.S. 372 (1982) and Bordenkircher v. Hayes, 434 U.S. 357 (1978). That is because the new indictment was returned only after the government lost its appeal in United States v. Tobin, 480 F.3d 53, 54-55 (1st Cir.2007), raising a presumption that new prosecution was a response to Tobin's successful exercise of his appellate rights. See United States v. Tobin, 598 F.Supp.2d 125 (D.Me. 2009). The district court found this to be a due process violation. Id. at 129-132. The Appeals Court later dismissed the prosecution's appeal on the government's own motion.[citation needed]


As of this edit, this article uses content from SourceWatch, a source licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License which was imported into Wikipedia before November 2008 and is therefore validly licensed for use on Wikipedia. All relevant terms must be followed. The original article was at "James Tobin".

  1. ^ "James Tobin". Bush Donor Profile. Texans for Public Justice. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  2. ^ DiStaso, John (December 16, 2004). "Granite Status: Well-Connected". UnionLeader.com. Archived from the original on 2005-01-01. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  3. ^ Hayward, Mark (December 2, 2004). "Ex-Bush chairman indicted on charges related to jamming". UnionLeader.com. 
  4. ^ "Bush/Cheney NE Campaign Chair Convicted Of Election-Jamming Charges". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. December 16, 2005. 
  5. ^ "Official in N.H. Senate Race Phone Jamming Sentenced". DirectMag.com. May 18, 2006. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  6. ^ Solomon, John (August 11, 2005). 11/gop_paying_legal_bills_of_bush_campaign_official_accused_of_voter_suppression "GOP paying legal bills of Bush campaign official accused of voter suppression". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  7. ^ DiStaso, John (February 9, 2006). "Granite Status: Tobin legal defense may total $2.5 million". UnionLeader.com. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  8. ^ DiStaso, John (March 19, 2009). "Granite Status: Shaheen part of moderate Democrats". UnionLeader.com. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  9. ^ McEnany, Jack (September 30, 2007). "NH Phone Jamming Conspiracy Case Widens". LostNation.tv. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  10. ^ Wang, Beverley; Philip Elliott (March 21, 2007). "Court Overturns Phone Jamming Conviction". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-03-20. [dead link]
  11. ^ Dorgan, Lauren R. (October 15, 2008). "New indictments filed in phone-jamming case". Concord Monitor. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  12. ^ Harrison, Judy (18 February 2009). "District judge clears Tobin". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 

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