Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How Rove Built it

Cross-posted from Firedoglake:

I suppose this would be a good time to state once again I live in Iowa (to both the State's and my "mutual shame"). Iowa is also known every four years as, the land of 10,000 phone calls* all inquiring who you are supporting at the Caucus. I have yet to declare my allegiance to a Democratic Campaign - or at least publicly declare one. Every vote counts, and I would not want to hurt my choice with the "Imprimatur of Shame", the "Atta J. Turk, endorsement".

I bring this up to mention -- again -- I get a LOT of phone calls about the campaign. Most are volunteers, but many are from phone banks, including the rare push poll. In talking to the occasional Republican friend (via "lemon juice on paper" with Ron Paul supporters) they tell me the push polls and bizarre recorded calls are heavier on their side. Which brings me to the story of Allen Raymond, convicted Republican phone scammer -- and the kind of recruit Karl Rove brought into the GOP tent in a big way.

A former GOP political operative who ran an illegal election-day scheme to jam the phone lines of New Hampshire Democrats during the state's tight 2002 U.S. Senate election said in a new book and an interview that he believes the scandal reaches higher into the Republican Party...

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...

GOP committees have paid Washington law firms more than $6 million to defend Tobin and to fight a Democratic civil suit against the party. Raymond, himself a former RNC official, said in the book and an interview that he believes that the scandal reaches higher.

"Any tactic that didn't pass the smell test would never see the light of day without, — at the very least, the approval of an RNC attorney," he wrote.

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.

Josh Marshall was on this story from early on and I recall him bringing many of these issues to light. But the McClatchy article reveals more about the kind of person that becomes a GOP operative in the era of Rove:
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.
Ah, a perfect political sociopath. And the techniques fit that mode too:
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.

Raymond spent three months in prison, but he makes an important point:
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."

*Suck on it Minnesota!

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