Thursday, August 11, 2005

Talk About Benefits. And There Isn't Even A Copay

John Spenkelink, who probably wished he was a member of the Republican party, once said, "Capital punishment: them without the capital get the punishment." James Tobin, the Bush 2004 campaign chairman for New England probably couldn't agree more, except he has the benefit of being a member of the GOP.

Despite a don't ask don't tell policy on tampering with voters, the Republican Party has quietly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide private defense lawyers for Tobin who is charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting in New Hampshire. "Hey. Some jobs give you health insurance, we pay your legal bills," said Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the RNC. "Given the way we do things, it's actually a better deal for the employee."

Tobin is charged in New Hampshire federal court with four felonies accusing him of conspiring to jam Democratic and labor union get-out-the-vote phone banks in November 2002. "'Jam' is such a nasty word," said RNC chairman Ken Mehlman. "We prefer 'utilizing our family free minutes.' There's no rollover you know."

"The position of the Republican National Committee is simple when we get caught: We will not tolerate fraud; we will not tolerate intimidation; we will not tolerate suppression. Any employee, associate or any person representing the Republican Party who engages in these kinds of acts will be promoted immediately, unless convicted," said Mehlman. "Further, if anyone were to ever not do that, we would help with their lawyers' fees."

Tobin's lawyers have attacked the prosecution, suggesting evidence was improperly introduced to the grand jury, that their client originally had been promised he wouldn't be indicted and that he was improperly charged under one of the statutes and that the prosecutor made faces at him during a hearing causing "great mental anguish and bed wetting." "We're going with every technicality we can find because, basically, this guy's guilty as sin," said Dennis Black, one of the defense lawyers.

Federal prosecutors have secured testimony from the two convicted conspirators, Charles McGee and Allen Raymond, in the scheme directly implicating Tobin. "When I found out the RNC was paying for Tobin and turning down my request for legal fees I was all like What. Ever. Get me the prosecutor on the line." Raymond said.

It was purely a budgetary decision," Mehlman said. "We just don't have the funds to defend every Republican operative in trouble with the law. We got the whole Rove thing coming up you know. That's going to take some bucks."

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