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Senior Republican charged in phone jamming plot

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A former Bush campaign official has been charged with plotting to jam the phone networks of political opponents during the November 2002 election.

James Tobin, 44, of Bangor, Maine, the former regional director of the Republican National Committee in New England, faces charges of conspiracy to commit telephone harassment and aiding and abetting telephone harassment. He face a jail sentence of up to five years if convicted.

Tobin allegedly took part in a conspiracy to jam five telephone numbers run by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and one associated with a local Professional Firefighters Association, in an attempt to stop opponents' "get-out-the-vote" efforts. More than 800 hang-up calls jammed the phone lines for about 90 minutes on election day, AP reports.

Tobin and Chuck McGee, former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, are accused of agreeing to pay Virginia-based GOP Marketplace $15,600 for the attack. GOP Marketplace allegedly hired a subcontractor to tie up phone lines using automated calls. Allen Raymond, a Republican consultant and GOP Marketplace president, and McGee both pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges this summer. Each faces sentencing early next year.

Tobin is alleged to have acted as the middleman that hooked McGee up with Raymond. He resigned as Bush's 2004 New England campaign chairman, when the allegations became public in October. He denies the charges. ®

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