Former GOP operative Allen Raymond has a new book coming out: “How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative.” Raymond was partially responsible for tampering with the 2002 New Hampshire senatorial election between John Sununu and Jeanne Shaheen (a matchup set to be repeated next November).
Raymond, 40, who served three months in jail last year, said he earned a graduate degree in political management at New York’s Baruch University solely to make money off politics, and it made no difference to him whether he was a Republican or a Democrat.
He soon climbed the GOP ranks to get jobs with the RNC and the GOP’s senatorial committee, before borrowing $250,000 from a group headed by former RNC chairman Haley Barbour in 2001 to set up a consulting firm specializing in phone bank services.
One of his tactics, Raymond said, was angering union households with calls in which people with Latin-sounding voices talked favorably about a rival candidate’s support for the North American Free Trade Agreement. And he used the voice of an angry black man, posing as a Democrat, to stir up “fear, racism, bigotry” in white neighborhoods.
Shortly before the November election, New Hampshire Republicans hired his Alexandria, Va.-based consulting firm, GOP Marketplace, for $15,600 to barrage Democrats’ phone lines on Election Day with 800 hang-up calls per hour amid the tight Senate race between Sununu and Shaheen.
Anyone can get overzealous. There’s always a few bad apples. But Raymond insists we wasn’t acting on his own authority.
Raymond said those who’ve tried to make him the fall guy for the New Hampshire scheme failed to recognize that e-mails, phone records and other evidence documented the complicity of a top state GOP official and the Republican National Committee’s northeast regional director.
Both men were later convicted of charges related to the phone harassment, along with Raymond and an Idaho phone bank operator. Defense lawyers have since won a retrial for James Tobin, the former regional director for both the RNC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee…
…Raymond said it was Tobin who first phoned him 2 1/2 weeks before the election and asked if he could jam Democrats’ phone lines, connecting him with Charles McGee, the executive director of the New Hampshire GOP.
However, he said, when he phoned Tobin after Sununu’s 19,000-vote election victory to tell him that a Manchester, N.H., police officer was looking into the scheme, Tobin responded, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
So, maybe Tobin was the overzealous bad apple. There’s always a few of those. Except:
Paul Twomey, a lawyer for the New Hampshire Democratic party, said that phone records obtained in the civil suit showed that Tobin made 22 calls to the White House political office in the 24 hours before and after the jamming.
Twomey said Tobin refused to testify about the calls, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
As often happens with GOP operatives, a decision to not self-incriminate is also a decision not to incriminate higher-ups. On the face of it, it looks like Karl Rove’s shop directly authorized the phone jamming operation, and then let underlings go the jail when they got caught. Raymond has an interesting observation on his experiences in jail.
As for his three months in a Pennsylvania prison, he wrote: “After 10 full years inside the GOP, 90 days among honest criminals wasn’t really any great ordeal.”
That seems about right. Political junkies may recall that the Democrats did much worse than pre-election polling suggested in the 2002 senatorial elections. Now we know at least part of the reason why.