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Phone-Jamming Records Point to White House

Phone Records in Court Show People in Election Phone Jamming Called White House

By LARRY MARGASAK

WASHINGTON Apr 11, 2006 (AP)— Republican officials describe the two-dozen calls to the White House around Election Day 2002 as normal conversations about a close Senate race in New Hampshire.

Democrats have suggested in a court filing that another subject was discussed: a GOP scheme that jammed phone lines to keep state Democrats from being encouraged to vote.

The phone-jamming operation has led to three federal convictions and a pending indictment. Prosecutors have not raised questions in court about the White House conversations but records of the calls were available to them as criminal court exhibits.

The records show that Republican campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 as the jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says it was "preposterous" to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.

Democrats have filed a motion asking a federal judge to order GOP and White House officials to answer questions about the phone jamming. The filing is part of the Democrats' civil lawsuit that alleges Republican voter fraud and seeks monetary damages.

Repeated hang-up calls that jammed telephone lines at a Democratic get-out-the-vote center occurred in the race that brought victory to GOP Sen. John Sununu. He defeated Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, 51 percent to 46 percent, on Nov. 5, 2002.

Besides the conviction of Tobin, the Republicans' New England regional director, prosecutors negotiated two plea bargains: one with a New Hampshire Republican Party official and another with the owner of a telemarketing firm involved in the scheme. The owner of the subcontractor firm whose employees made the hang-up calls is under indictment.

The phone records show that most calls to the White House were from Tobin, who became President Bush's presidential campaign chairman for the New England region in 2004. Other calls from New Hampshire senatorial campaign offices to the White House could have been made by a number of people.

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