Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'Stories'

How many dead squirrel stories do *you* have?

April 17th, 2007 · Comments Off on How many dead squirrel stories do *you* have?




Dead squirrel

Originally uploaded by velvetmarmoset.

Ronni Bennett’s Elder Storytelling Place is brand-new–but I’ve already found lots of wonderful new stories there.

It’s a lovely project that deserves your attention–and would be a great place for your own stories. I wonder how many stories-per-person will show up there. Will it give an insider’s view into the lives of a few of us? Or will it showcase the most story-like memories from a wide range of us?

Research by Seth Anthony (reported at Wikimania 2006 in his talk “Who is creating real content for Wikipedia?“) suggests that most people run out of energy or material after no more than ten or so “high-content” contributions.

For example, my blogfriend Bert hasn’t posted since 2005. How I miss him! How I enjoyed his memories of the 1980 Olympics in upstate NY, his scenes from the 2004 election, and his celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.

For another example, I doubt that I have even nine more memories that fit into story form as well as my dead squirrel story.

Props to Ronni for starting this project, which will surely enrich us with many people’s great stories!

Tags: Stories · Wide wonderful world

Why is the RNC paying to keep NH phone-jamming secrets? A partial timeline

April 11th, 2006 · Comments Off on Why is the RNC paying to keep NH phone-jamming secrets? A partial timeline

Federal Election campaign, 2002
Chuck McGee, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Republican party, gets a flyer in the mail from NH Democrats with phone numbers to call if you want a ride to the polls. McGee gets the idea to “disrupt enemy communications” by jamming these numbers. He approaches several telemarketers, all of whom refuse to help him, and is stymied until James Tobin offers to help him. James Tobin is the New England regional head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
10/18/2002
James Tobin makes a two-minute phone call to Allen Raymond. (Raymond testified that Tobin had phoned him to tell him to expect a phone call from McGee. Defense witness Kathleen Summers testified that Tobin had a different reason to call.)
10/23/2002
Tobin’s expense account shows a payment of $39.16 with the names Chuck McGee, Darrell Henry, and Chairman Dowd (head of NH State Republican Party)
10/28/2002
Abramoff clients Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (California) gives $5,000 to NH Republican State Committee.
http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/dcdev/forms/C00136457/95264/sa/ALL
10/28/2002
Abramoff clients Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians gives $5,000 to NH Republican State Committee.
11/1/2002
Tom DeLays’s ARMPAC gives $5,000 to NH Republican State Committee.
11/4/2002
McGee sends $15,600 check from NH Republican State Committee check to pay for phone-jamming. He also sends Raymond an email with the 6 phone numbers to jam.
11/5/2002
Election day phone-jamming plan unravels, as Manchester Police and NH Republican John Dodds bring it to a halt. James Tobin makes two dozen phone calls to the White House office of public affairs between 11/4 and 2:17 a.m. on 11/7.
mid-November, 2002
Manchester, NH police contact Allen Raymond’s company; Raymond phones Tobin; Tobin at first pretends not to know what he’s talking about (Allen Raymond’s testimony)
2/7/2003
Federal investigators have been called in by Manchester, NH police. Manchester Union Leader breaks the phone-jamming story, and Chuck McGee resigns as Executive Director of the New Hampshire Republican party.
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2003_02_02.php#000625
2/20/2003
According to the Feb. 20 Union Leader, the GOP Marketplace attorney said “the firm hasn’t heard from federal or state investigators, either.”
http://www.theunionleader.com/articles_show.html?article=18369
December, 2003
FBI agent first interviews Chuck McGee to ask him about his role in the phone-jamming. (Chuck McGee’s testimony)
2/17/2004
James Tobin donation to Ted Poe (Texas) $1,000
3/30/2004
James Tobin donation to John Eric Ensign (NV) (giving Tobin’s Maine address) $500
6/9/2004
James Tobin donation to John Eric Ensign (NV) (giving Tobin’s DC address) $500
6/24/2004
James Tobin donation to Bob Beauprez (CO) $500
6/30/2004
Allen Raymond pleads guilty, admitting he took $15,600 from the NH Republican Committee to pay for a phone bank to make repeated hang-up calls to NH Democrats and Manchester firefighters, blocking their get-out-the-vote effort on Election Day 2002.
6/30/2004
Prosecutor Todd Hinnen tells the court that had Raymond chosen to go to trial, the government would have been able to prove that “in late October 2002, the defendant, Allen Raymond, then the president of Virginia-based political consulting company GOP Marketplace, LLC, received a call from a former colleague who was then an official in a national political organization. The official indicated that he had been approached by an employee of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee with an idea that might give New Hampshire Republican candidates an edge over New Hampshire democratic (sic) candidates in the upcoming election.”
6/30/2004
James Tobin donation to Tom Delay (TX) $2000 (More on Tobin’s donations to friends of DeLay and Abramoff.
7/1/2004
Union Leader story discloses that Raymond worked with “co-conspirators known to the government,” but does not identify them.
Early July, 2004
Chuck McGee arraigned for his role in phone-jamming.
7/10/2004
James Tobin donation to Kit Bond (MO) $500
7/13/2004
NH State Democratic Party files suit against the Republican State Committee and its former executive director over the jamming of six phone banks on Election Day 2002.
7/28/2004
Chuck McGee pleads guilty in Federal Court.
8/26/2004
James Tobin donation to Sandhills PAC (Chuck Hagel) $500
9/3/2004
James Tobin donation to Iowa Priorities PAC (Jim Nussle) $500
Early October, 2004
NH Democrats sue both McGee and Raymond, filing a motion that describes but does not name James Tobin as the unidentified co-conspirator whose identity has been concealed by the Justice Department.
10/11/2004
Josh Marshall’s TalkingPointsMemo reveals the name of James Tobin, based on information in the Democrats’ lawsuit.
10/14, 2004
The Manchester Union Leader becomes the first mainstream media outlet to name James Tobin in connection with the phone-jamming scandal.
10/15/2004
James Tobin resigns as Bush-Cheney New England campaign chair. http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/003694.php
12/1/2004
James Tobin is indicted by Federal grand jury on four counts related to the get-out-the-vote phone-jamming. The indictment describes Tobin as the go-between who put McGee and Raymond in touch with each other. Tobin pleads innocent to the charges.
12/9/2004
According to RNC financial disclosures, the Republican National Committee paid the high-powered Washington law firm Williams and Connolly $162,646 on Dec. 9, 2004, eight days after a grand jury charged that Tobin had aided former state GOP executive director Charles McGee in setting up an operation to jam voter-turnout telephone banks at Democratic and labor union offices throughout the state. http://www.democrats.org/a/2005/08/whos_dopey_geor.php?comments=1
5/18/2005
Superseding indictment of James Tobin alleges 4 counts: Conpiracy 1) against voters’ rights and 2) to make phone calls violating federal law, and Aiding and abetting 3) anonymous harassing phone calls and 4) repeated harassing phone calls. http://wid.ap.org/documents/tobinindictment.pdf
8/13/2005
Union Leader breaks story that RNC is paying Tobin’s legal bills.
August, 2005
Federal Prosecutor Todd Hinnen pulled off the phone-jamming case, replaced by a brand-new prosecutor. (Tobin’s defense continues to be handled by partner-level staff from top DC white-collar-crime group Williams and Connelly.)
12/6/2005
James Tobin’s trial begins, in front of an audience that includes a few local reporters, many well-dressed young lawyers taking notes, and one dogged blogger. (Chronological account of Tobin’s trial)
12/15/2005
James Tobin convicted on two counts (Conspiracy, and Aiding and abetting related to phone calls); acquitted on conspiracy against rights.
12/15/2005
Tobin’s lawyers get another $1,771,360.21 from the RNC

12/21/2005
Tobin’s lawyers file notice of their intent to appeal his conviction.
3/27/06
Fourth indictment in NH phone-jamming case–Sean Hanson, the Idaho telemarketer whose company made the hang-up phone calls.
04/08/2006
Karl Rove thanks GOP lawyers for “clean elections.”
04/12/2006
NH State Legislature votes unanimously to make phone-jamming a felony.

Tags: Stories

Some of my favorite posts from 2005

April 7th, 2006 · Comments Off on Some of my favorite posts from 2005

  1. On being polka-dottedly hard-of-hearing
  2. Put that in your search result… (graphic BillBlink)
  3. Dried marjoram from her grandmother’s garden
  4. Er, ah, Camilla, old bean, oh, dash it all…
  5. Eternal life of a Willy Loman
  6. Hallelujah for modern music, including Handel’s (graphic pierced Handel)
  7. Full moon over blogland (graphic moon)
  8. Pre-mocking this year’s Oscars
  9. Geek celebration: Our billion-second-iversary
  10. De canem nil nisi bonum
  11. Happiness is a Dutch bicycle
  12. How Descartes made me stop being late to morning assembly…
  13. “Few Body Collisions”
  14. Portrait of a 1918 blogger
  15. One dress, one jacket, one suitcase packed at all times…
  16. Un-bargained bargain
  17. Soft watches and traveling Saturdays
  18. Happy”Day After Mothers´ Day”!
  19. Word from a lover (and hater) of science museums
  20. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Frank Wilczek, and Iker Casillas
  21. Randomly generate poetry based on your blog
  22. Ultimate h2g2 computer nerd joke
  23. Let’s all be post-post-post-post-post-post-Postmodern
  24. I like good hotels better than grand ones…
  25. Father’s Day and loving men, just in general
  26. Galactic strawberries and DMZ birding
  27. Comet kaboom just in time for Fourth of July (graphic)
  28. “Captain, I canna change the laws of physics!”
  29. Close encounter with Phoenicopteris ruber plasticus
  30. Deciphering the technology of Mozart
  31. Home home home home home
  32. Volkswagen Beetles, and Robby, by a nose
  33. Duelling mass-market paperbacks
  34. Two brothers, eight cousins, and Craigslist
  35. Maple syrup miracle (graphic)
  36. Chuck McGee, now out of prison…
  37. Strawberry fields remembered
  38. “I pledge allegiance to the fish”?
  39. AP reporter:”What happened? What happened?”
  40. Christmas landscape with berries, birds, and blogfriends

And some of my favorite graphics from 2005:






AnnetteFun: Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, animated gif.
BostonPublicGarden: Boston Public Garden under snow.

ModHandel: Handel with piercings and microphone
Davesnow: Dave Winer sparring with New England snowfall

Tags: Stories

James Tobin’s Consulting Contract with the NRSC, dated Feb. 5, 2002

March 25th, 2006 · Comments Off on James Tobin’s Consulting Contract with the NRSC, dated Feb. 5, 2002

Government Exhibit 64 in the criminal trial of James Tobin in NH’s Federal District Court, CR 04-216-01-SM, was his contract with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

Here are some salient excerpts:

WITNESSETH

WHEREAS, Tobin is in the business of political consulting.

WHEREAS, the NRSC desires to engage Tobin for performance of above said services as a regional political director;

Now, THEREFORE,..the parties agree as follows:

ARTICLE I — DUTIES OF TOBIN

A. Services Provided. Tobin covenants and agrees to provide to the NRSC the following services: Tobin covenants and agrees to provide services as consultant to NRSC and its candidates.

B. Directives. In performing its [sic] duties, Tobin shall routinely consult with the NRSC’s political director, Chris LaCivita….

ARTICLE V — INDEMNIFICATION

Tobin shall indemnify and hold the NRSC.. harmless against and from any and all claims .. (including attorneys’ fees..) .. arising out of or attributable to Tobin’s performance of this contract…

The contract promises Tobin $6,000 per month for his services. I think it’s interesting that whoever drafted this contract went to a lot of trouble to make sure Tobin kept the NRSC’s secrets, most especially its donor lists, assessing a penalty of $50,000 for each incident of his violating this provision.


Tags: Stories

Frank Wilczek, in his own words, recommending twelve books for a NY Academy of Science project

March 9th, 2006 · Comments Off on Frank Wilczek, in his own words, recommending twelve books for a NY Academy of Science project

Starmaker, Olaf Stapledon
Most science fiction gives us fictional worlds that are less fantastic, and much less interesting, than the real worlds science and history present us with. Starmaker is a grand exception. Mind-stretching!

Philosophy of Mathematics and the Natural Sciences, Hermann Weyl
This book is a survey of the whole field of mathematics and science, as it stood in the mid-twentieth century, by one of the greatest and wisest mathematical physicists. Interesting both as intellectual history and as intellectual doctrine.

QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, Richard Feynman
This short book is a unique, brilliant attempt to present a key component of our most advanced theories of physics in an honest way. Feynman presents the actual rules that govern elementary processes in quantum theory, and shows how to get from those weird rules to some familiar (and some not-so-familiar) physical phenomena.

Quantum Computation and Quantum Information, Michael Nielsen and Isaac Chuang
Quantum mechanics is still a young theory. It opens up potentials for qualitatively new kinds of information processing, and perhaps eventually for qualitatively new kinds of minds. It is also strange, beautiful, and fascinating. This book is a good starting-point if you’d like to get into those aspects of the subject.

Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms, Donald MacKay
A great challenge of our time is to realize the potential of modern computing technologies for creative achievement. I feel we’ve only scratched the surface, and that giving machines the ability to learn is the key. This book presents many relevant insights, and is quite entertaining to boot.

Power, Sex, Suicide, Nick Lane
Lest you get the wrong impression, the subtitle of this recent book is “Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life”. It would be surprising if all the ideas discussed here are correct, but I found it an exhilarating visit to some frontiers of modern biology, by a writer who’s not afraid to thing big – and think hard.

The Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, Raymond Smullyan
You don’t have to know much about chess to have fun with these strange puzzles, which ask you not to predict the best moves, but rather to reconstruct what happened in the past. The framing stories are also quite amusing. This is definitely one of the cleverest books I’ve ever encountered.

They Made America, Harold Evans
Often inspiring, always fascinating stories of inventors and entrepreneurs whose work changed the way we live.

The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam
Two painful lessons: denying reality won’t change it; cleverness is not the same as wisdom. A sad and infuriating, but necessary, book for anyone with responsibility for public issues.

Lincoln at Gettysburg, Gary Wills
This short, beautifully written book is a close reading of a very brief speech that just might be the greatest poem ever written (or maybe that’s the Second Inaugural). It contains depths within depths.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
The basic message: put yourself in the other guy’s shoes. A short, sweet book that is interesting on several levels. We could all benefit from taking it to heart.

Golden Gate, Vikram Seth
This novel is written in the form of a series of sonnets in verse. It is an amazing feat, delightful to witness. Now we need a modern Lucretius, who’ll put our best (scientific) concept of the world to verse.

Tags: Stories

2002 NH Phone-jamming trial: Treffinger testimony shut out by defense

January 10th, 2006 · Comments Off on 2002 NH Phone-jamming trial: Treffinger testimony shut out by defense

At the trial of James Tobin, defense attorney Dane Butswinkas objected strongly to letting telemarketer Allen Raymond testify about his work for James Treffinger’s NJ Senate Campaign.

The following discussion took place “at side bar, ” out of hearing of the jury but part of the official case transcript for December 7, 2005 (morning session), which I quote:

[Page 81]
4 MR. BUTSWINKAS: Your Honor, I just want to
5 make sure we’re not going to get into examples of prior
6 bad acts. We’ve received no 404(b) notice. It is not
7 relevant to truthfulness.
8 THE COURT: What’s the relevance?
9 MR. MARSH [US Attorney from the Public Integrity Section of the DOJ]: It’s relevant because it
10 establishes Mr. Raymond’s position in the community as a
11 player. Specifically, he was involved in something in
12 New Jersey which was an aggressive ad. He was
13 interviewed by the federal government, was never charged
14 with a crime, was never implicated in a crime, but it
15 resulted in him having to give an interview and resulted
16 ultimately in grand jury indictment unrelated to him.
17 THE COURT [Judge Steven McAuliffe]: The point of all this is what?
18 MR. MARSH: To bring it out.
19 THE COURT: If the point is to bring it out,
20 the answer is no.
21 MR. MARSH: Also to establish at the time
22 prior to when Mr. Raymond gets solicited by Mr. Tobin in
23 the fall, this incident in New Jersey has already
24 happened, is already public, and it’s something we
25 believe circumstantially Mr. Tobin would have known at
[Page 82]
1 the time that he makes the reference to Mr. McGee.
2 MR. BUTSWINKAS: There is no proof of that.
3 THE COURT: No, no, no, no. Are you kidding?
4 You mean because Raymond is involved in something, Tobin
5 necessarily knew about it?
6 MR. LEVCHUK [the lead US Attorney on the case]: It’s publicly known, the
7 aggressive hard hitting, in other words, that kind of
8 person.
9 THE COURT: Why does this jury need to know
10 that?
11 MR. LEVCHUK: Because it explains why the
12 referral to this guy [Allen Raymond] rather than somebody else. It
13 tends to make that the more likely than not route.


Unfortunately, Judge McAuliffe sustained Mr. Butswinkas’s objection, cutting off an opportunity for Allen Raymond to testify under oath about his work for James Treffinger–even though such testimony would have helped the defense’s efforts to discredit Raymond, who gave damning evidence against James Tobin.

Just one more reason why I’m reluctant to describe the Washington-based, RNC-paid lawyers on the defense bench as “Mr. Tobin’s lawyers.” In Mr. Tobin’s interest, they should on many occasions have taken a different path–beginning with counselling him (as McGee’s and Raymond’s lawyers had counselled them) to take a plea deal from the US Attorney.


Tags: Stories

Concord Monitor stories on Tobin

December 20th, 2005 · Comments Off on Concord Monitor stories on Tobin

Tags: Stories

What did Daryl Henry know and how did he know it? (note: correct spelling is “Darrell Henry”.)

December 15th, 2005 · Comments Off on What did Daryl Henry know and how did he know it? (note: correct spelling is “Darrell Henry”.)

From the official court transcript of United States of America vs. James Tobin, (CR.04-216-01-SM) December 7, 2005, morning session. Here “Q” is US Attorney Andrew Levchuk and “A” is witness Chuck McGee.

[Page 8]
16 Q. Later on on Election Day, do you have a
17 discussion about the phone jamming scheme with anyone?
18 A. That day, later in the day, I traveled to our
19 Manchester Republican Office where I spoke to —
20 specifically about this, I recall speaking to a
21 gentleman by the name of Daryl Henry. Daryl was up from
22 Washington volunteering on the campaign. I mentioned to
23 him that the phone call plan had been called off and
24 that I was a bit upset about that, and he indicated in
25 some fashion that he knew about the plan going on and

[Page 9]

1 that he had called some associates of his to pick up
2 where we left off. I took it as bravado because I
3 didn’t possibly know how he would have known about the
4 plan or who we were calling or how it had been stopped.
5 I just took it as he was trying to be a nice guy and
6 make me feel good.
7 Q. Who is Daryl Henry, sir?
8 A. He was up from Washington. As far as I know
9 he works for American Gas Association. I don’t know
10 much more about him than that.
11 Q. What was he doing in New Hampshire, if you
12 know?
13 A. He was helping coordinate some of our VIP
14 visits, volunteering in general campaign fashion. The
15 time before an election is very, very, very busy for us,
16 as you know. We spent nine million dollars that year.


For a full transcript of the morning session, December 7, 2005, contact NH Court Reporter Diane M. Churas.


Darell, not Daryl, Henry is a lobbyist for the American Gas Association. In January, 2004, NPR reported on a lobbying excursion where he was one of the players: http://www.weblog.nohair.net/archives/000438.html. According to Mike Gehrke, Henry took leave from his job with the AGA in 2002 to help with the NH GOP get-out-the-vote activities, and “After the election, Henry organized a fundraiser for the NH Republican Party featuring former RNC chair Marc Racicot and Ken Mehlman, who had recently accepted the position to manage President Bush’s reelection.”

Tags: Stories

Extraordinary year, extraordinary thanks: December 10, 2005

December 11th, 2005 · Comments Off on Extraordinary year, extraordinary thanks: December 10, 2005

The past year has been extraordinary. A new era started for Betsy and me on October 5, 2004 at 5:11 AM when Betsy interrupted my shower to hand me our cordless telephone, saying “A lady with a beautiful voice wants to talk to you. I think she has a Swedish accent.” I had hoped to hear, some day, from the Nobel committee, anticipating that this conversation would be of the form “Congratulations, you’ve won the Nobel Prize, goodbye.” Now I can tell you, that isn’t how it happens. Quite a few dignitaries, friends, colleagues and journalists all wanted to talk, and under the circumstances I was happy to oblige them despite being completely naked and dripping wet. The next thing was to call my parents with the news; that was one of the high points of my entire life.

The festivities in Stockholm, last December, were a week of wonders. After each event, I’d think “Nothing can equal that,” and then the next event would equal it. It climaxed with the rites of the Order of the Ever Smiling and Jumping Green Frog. I was delighted to see that our invitation tonight indicated “Black Tie and Decorations,” since it gave me the opportunity to display my only decoration, which is the magnificent green metal frog I got there. To earn it, I had to pass a series of tests, similar in spirit to the Masonic rituals you see in The Magic Flute, but choreographed by the Marx Brothers, rather than Mozart. That, finally, was an event that couldn’t be equaled. From there we went north to Kiruna, where we stayed at the ice hotel before returning home.

From them until now has been a year full of many varied events, ranging from addressing elementary school classes to hobnobbing with the rich and famous. I’ll forego name-dropping here, with one exception: I got to meet Yogi Berra. Recently I remarked to Betsy that I feel we’ve lived half our lives in the past year. That might be an illustration of the theory of relativity, or maybe an exaggeration, but for sure more than half our photos are from the last year.

I’m extremely grateful to Alfred Nobel and the people of Sweden for making it all possible.

But now I’d like to probe a little deeper.

For all the fun, the most profoundly gratifying thing I’ve experienced since winning the Nobel prize has been an outpouring of interest and affection from the general public, and from my colleagues – even from my rivals and competitors. This is not meant for me personally, I know. I didn’t suddenly metamorphose into another kind of being on October 5, 2004, or do anything at all. And most people, even physicists, don’t really understand the work that the prize was for.

When Einstein arrived in New York in the early 20s, his boat was met by cheering crowds. Einstein was pleased, but also astonished by this phenomenon. He asked Charlie Chaplin, who was traveling with him, “What does all this mean?” Chaplin replied: “Nothing.” I think Chaplin was wrong about that.

So what does it mean?

Many kinds of rewards are given to people for tangible services rendered. These rewards take the form of salaries, profits, social status, and so forth. But the accumulated wealth of science and literature, and the blessing of peace, often derive from efforts whose ultimate value isn’t immediately obvious. Even in cases where the real importance of some breakthrough is clear, it still might take years before the work yields any economic benefit; or, especially in literature, there may never be any conventional economic benefit at all. People who work toward increasing this special kind of wealth are devoting their careers to extremely long-term investments in the improvement of life for humanity as a whole. And what hardheaded businessperson or consumer will pay for that?

Yet history teaches us that such devotion to the long-term, and to the common good, pays off. The basic science of today becomes the technology of the future; the challenging literature of today provides the classics of the future; the difficult statecraft of today ensures the peace and prosperity of the future.

Part of the genius of Alfred Nobel and his prizes, as perfected by his successors at the Foundation and the people of Sweden, was to find a special way to recognize and encourage that kind of devotion. And I think that is what Einstein and Chaplin’s crowd, and the many people who’ve treated me so warmly over the past year, are responding to. So in that spirit I thank all involved not just for myself, but on behalf of all humanity, and on behalf of future generations.


Frank Wilczek, after-dinner remarks at the Swedish Consulate, New York City, 10 December 2005.


Tags: Stories

James Tobin trial starts December 6

December 5th, 2005 · Comments Off on James Tobin trial starts December 6

The U.S. District Court trial of former Republican National Committee regional political director James Tobin is scheduled to begin Tuesday. It’s unclear whether a flurry of pre-trial motions filed by Tobin’s attorney this week will cause a delay.

Tobin is charged with conspiracy in connection with the election day 2002 phone jam scandal. He allegedly put former state party executive director Chuck McGee, the admitted mastermind of the operation, in touch with Virginia-based GOP strategist Allan Raymond, who, in turn, has admitted to arranging to have hang-up calls jam Democratic and union get-out-the-vote phone banks on election morning.

Judge Steven McAuliffe has scheduled a hearing for tomorrow morning on several pre-trial motions that provide insight into some issues that may come up at trial:

  • Tobin’s attorneys — funded by the Republican National Committee, not Tobin — are asking the judge to disallow any suggestion that the RNC or its related National Republican Senatorial Committee was involved in paying for the hang-up calls.
  • McGee has admitted signing a Republican State Committee check to Raymond to pay for the operation. But the state committee’s financial filings also show contributions from the RNC and NRSC. Tobin’s lawyers say those contributions were unrelated to the phone jam and do not want the jurors be confused about who paid for it.
  • Tobin’s lawyers say it appears that the government will elicit testimony from Raymond on campaign finance and election law issues. They say such a move would be improper because Raymond would not be an expert witness.
  • Tobin’s lawyers are asking the judge to exclude any evidence that the recipients of the hang-up calls were made to feel “annoyed” or “harassed,” since, they say, it would be an attempt by the government “to fit insufficient evidence into the statutory requirements.”
  • The government wants to be sure that Tobin’s attorneys can not cross-examine Raymond on advice Raymond received from his attorney.

Each side recently submitted its witness list. All witnesses are not always called, but the lists in this case have some interesting names.

The government’s list includes:

  • Prominent Democrats Buckley, the party vice chair, and state Rep. Jane Clemons of Nashua,
  • Former state Republican chairs John Dowd and Jayne Millerick, Concord GOP Chair Jeff Newman, former state GOP finance director Kristy Stuart, former state GOP vice chair Mark Pappas and GOP strategist Chris Wood.
  • National GOP strategists Terry Nelson and Chris Lacivita.

Tobin’s list includes some of the above, but also includes:

  • Steve Forbes, the 1996 and 2002 presidential candidate who formerly employed Tobin and Raymond,
  • Former state GOP legal counsel David Vicinanzo,
  • Former national Republican Chairman James Nicholson.

Both lists also include McGee and Raymond, while Tobin is listed as a witness on his own behalf.

John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.

The text above appeared in Di Staso’s column “Granite Status” in the Manchester Union Leader of Dec. 1, 2005.


The text below appeared in an article by DiStaso in the Manchester Union Leader of Dec. 3, 2005, headlined “Attorneys want no talk of RNC in phone trial.”

Attorneys for an accused conspirator in a 2002 Republican phone-jamming scandal want no suggestions made in an upcoming trial that the Republican National Committee or its U.S. Senate campaign affiliate paid for the illegal operation.

The request for special jury instructions to that effect and for deletions on certain documents was made yesterday by the RNC-paid lawyers for former RNC official James Tobin.

The motion appeared to intrigue U.S. District Court Judge Steven J. McAuliffe. In a pre-trial hearing, he pointed out that federal prosecutors have not alleged that the RNC or National Republican Senatorial Committee paid for the operation.

McAuliffe said that undisputed evidence shows a $15,600 check to pay for hundreds of hang-up calls to Democratic and union get-out-the-vote phone banks on election day morning, 2002, was drawn on the New Hampshire Republican State Committee’s war chest.

Andrew Levchuck, the justice department prosecutor, said the RNC and NRSC contributed about $200,000 to the state committee prior to the election, but said he intends to present no evidence suggesting any of it was for the express purpose of funding the phone jam.

McAuliffe wanted to know why, then, Tobin’s attorneys were concerned about it.

“Do you feel there is a need for the jury to know this, or for the public to know?” McAuliffe asked Washington-based attorney Bradley J. Bondi.

The lawyer responded that he and his colleagues never try cases with an eye toward public opinion.

“That’s what this sounds like,” McAuliffe countered from the bench, denying the motion. “Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with this, either, but I’m not going to tell the jury that.”

McAuliffe said that if he told the jurors, “Don’t think for a moment that any of that money came from the RNC,” it would plant the idea in their minds that the RNC may have had something to do with it.

Tobin is scheduled to stand trial beginning Tuesday on charges that he conspired with former state party executive director Charles McGee and GOP political consultant Allen Raymond to deprive Granite Staters of their constitutional right to vote by jamming the phone lines manned by volunteers offering free rides to the polls.

The government says Tobin violated a federal law guaranteeing constitutional voting rights and a separate statute prohibiting telephone harassment.

The government says McGee, who has admitted coming up with the idea, asked Tobin to help him find a vendor to arrange the calls. It says Tobin then put McGee in touch with Raymond.

The government says Tobin also called Raymond, explained the scheme and told him to expect a call from McGee.

Raymond received the $15,600 state Republican Party check and used $2,500 of it to hire an Idaho telemarketing firm, which made about 800 hang-up calls to six telephone numbers on early on election day.

Tobin spent time in New Hampshire during that campaign as both RNC New England political director and Northeast political director of the NRSC. Republican John E. Sununu won a hard-fought Senate victory over Democrat Jeanne Shaheen by nearly 20,000 votes.

McAuliffe yesterday also said he will allow Tobin’s attorney to argue to the jury that Tobin was not part of a conspiracy because McGee and Raymond did not decide to go forward with the phone jam until Raymond received his attorney’s advice on the legality of the operation.

By the time Raymond and McGee went forward, a Tobin attorney said, Tobin was “off the reservation” and had no knowledge of the details of the phone jam.

McAuliffe said he will not allow Tobin’s attorneys to tell the jury what Raymond’s lawyer advised because, the judge said, it was irrelevant to Tobin’s actions.

The advice was that the scheme was legal.

Also yesterday, lawyers for the Republican State Committee and the government settled a key dispute.

The committee agreed to give the government its documents and computer hard drives from its own internal probe of the phone jam as long as they are not made public.

The proposed agreement was submitted to the judge for his review.


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