December 1, 2004 3:17 PM PST
Former Bush campaign official indicted
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Now James Tobin, who was the top Bush campaign official for New England and formerly the Republican National Committee's regional director, is being accused of mounting a similar kind of attack on the phone networks of five Democratic Party offices during the November 2002 election.
A federal grand jury indictment released Wednesday charges Tobin with attempting to "disrupt communications" by clogging the Democrats' phones on Election Day through repeated hang-up calls. The four-count indictment also says Tobin targeted the Manchester Professional Firefighters Association's phones in an attempt to interfere with its get-out-the-vote effort.
Tobin could not immediately be reached for comment. "I am saddened to learn that this action has been taken against me," he said in a statement provided to the Associated Press. "I have great respect for the justice system and plan to fight back to clear my name."
While allegations stemming from the "phone jamming" on Election Day 2002 already have been swirling through the court system, Tobin is the most senior Republican to be implicated. Chuck McGee, former executive director of the state Republican Party, and consultant Allen Raymond pleaded guilty to related charges.
Tobin resigned in October as Bush's 2004 New England campaign chairman, after allegations that he was involved became public. He denied the accusations at the time.
The indictment claims that Tobin and McGee wrote a check for $15,600 to a Virginia company called GOP Marketplace, owned by Raymond. GOP Marketplace allegedly hired a subcontractor to tie up the phones on Election Day by making hundreds of nuisance phone calls.
If convicted, Tobin could face up to five years in prison.