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Monday, Apr 10, 2006, 6:40 pm

Is Bush White House Subject To RICO?

By Brian Zick
Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker links to this AP story about convicted phone jammer James Tobin's contacts with the White House around Election Day, 2002.

Larry Margasak for AP writes:
Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.

The records show that Bush 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 phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.
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Democrats plan to ask a federal judge Tuesday to order GOP and White House officials to answer questions about the phone jamming in a civil lawsuit alleging voter fraud.
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A Democratic analysis of phone records introduced at Tobin's criminal trial show he made 115 outgoing calls -- mostly to the same number in the White House political affairs office -- between Sept. 17 and Nov. 22, 2002. Two dozen of the calls were made from 9:28 a.m. the day before the election through 2:17 a.m. the night after the voting.

There also were other calls between Republican officials during the period that the scheme was hatched and canceled.
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Virtually all the calls to the White House went to the same number, which currently rings inside the political affairs office. In 2002, White House political affairs was led by now-RNC chairman Ken Mehlman. The White House declined to say which staffer was assigned that phone number in 2002.
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Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera said Monday: "With every development in this case, there are new questions about the extent to which key national Republicans had knowledge of or were involved in a criminal scheme to keep New Hampshire voters from getting to the polls. The American people have a right to know whether the White House political director, who today sits as chairman of the national Republican Party, had any hand in it."

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Steve Soto at The Left Coaster has flagged this story too. Jane Hamsher at firedoglake draws some historical parallels.

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criminal code definition of "racketeering activity"

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 96 > § 1961
RACKETEER INFLUENCED AND CORRUPT ORGANIZATIONS
§ 1961. Definitions
(1) “racketeering activity” means
(B) any act which is indictable under any of the following provisions of title 18, United States Code: ... section 1343 (relating to wire fraud)

update:
To clarify, it is generally accepted that a sitting president may not be subject to criminal prosecution. But, as those who recall the Paula Jones case against President Clinton will know, a sitting president is subject to civil litigation. And RICO can be applied in civil cases.

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