NH conviction reversed on appeal!

Breaking News and Commentary from Citizens for Legitimate Government
22 March 2007
All links to articles as summarized below are available here:
Appeals court reverses conviction for GOP official in New Hampshire phone-jamming case 21 Mar 2007 A federal appeals court on Wednesday reversed the conviction and sentence of a former Republican National Committee official [James Tobin] accused in a phone-jamming plot on Election Day 2002.
Thus the BushCo has mooted the whole question–suddenly explosive–of how
Gonzales et al. purposely sabotaged the case!
TPMmuckraker March 21, 2007 04:59 PM
Dems: GOP Phone Jamming
Case Stalled, Mishandled

By Paul Kiel – March 21, 2007, 4:59 PM
We reported earlier that people were asking questions about the Justice Department’s handling of the Jack Abramoff investigation. Now New Hampshire Democrats are raising questions about another DoJ investigation into Republican wrongdoing — the New Hampshire phone jamming case.
In a detailed, 10-page letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) signed by Kathleen Sullivan, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and Paul Twomey, a lawyer for the Democrats, they argue that the investigation, which targeted prominent operatives in the Republican Party, was stalled and mishandled.
On Election Day in 2002, Republicans schemed to jam the phone banks for Democratic get out the vote efforts. Two Republicans involved in the plan pled guilty, and James Tobin, formerly the New England Regional Political Director for the Republican National Committee, was convicted for his role. The case took years to play out; the first guilty pleas in the case were not until the summer of 2004, and Tobin was not indicted until after the 2004 election.
One of the reasons the investigation was stalled, Democrats argue, is that “all decisions had to be reviewed by the Attorney General himself” — first John Ashcroft and then Alberto Gonzales. To back up that claim, the Democrats say that lawyers working on the case were told by prosecutors that delays in the case were due to the extreme difficulty in obtaining authorization from higher levels at DOJ for any and all actions in the case.
A lawyer for one of the Republicans in the case backs up that claim. John Durken, the lawyer for Allen Raymond, a Republican whose consulting firm managed the jamming, says that the lead prosecutor in the case told him during one meeting that Ashcroft was involved in every decision. “He said, ‘Every decision in this case goes all the way up to Ashcroft’s desk.'” Durken told me that such a fact didn’t “surprise” him, given the political nature of the case.
Melanie Sloan, the Executive Director of the watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a former federal prosecutor, concurred. “It’s not unusual that Ashcroft was informed, given that this was a high profile, political case –‘political’ is the key here.”
Todd Hinnen, who was the lead prosecutor on the case until 2005, when he departed to be a counterrorism advisor at the White House, declined to comment on internal Justice Department deliberations (Hinnen left the White House earlier this year to become the chief counsel for Sen. Joseph R. Biden (D-DE)). A Justice Department spokesperson also declined to comment.
But whether Ashcroft’s, and later Gonzales’, involvement was unusual or not, Democrats say that the need to check decisions with DoJ higher-ups routinely resulted in “inordinate delays” in the investigation. They also say that both AGs failed to recuse themselves, despite a conflict of interest: Ashcroft as a former senator, since Tobin was a high ranking official in the committee that helped Ashcroft get elected; and Gonzales as legal counsel for the White House, since the Democrats alleged White House involvement in the jamming scheme.

The Democrats’ other grievances, which they lay out in the letter, are 1) that the Justice Department bogged the investigation down by assigning only one FBI agent to the case — and that agent was part-time 2) that the DoJ’s refusal to prosecute the organziations responsible for the jamming, the New Hampshire Republican Party and the Republican National Committee, violated Justice Department guidelines, and 3) the DoJ failed to follow leads that led to higher-level Republican involvement.
You can read the entire letter laying out the case here.

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