Thursday, September 14, 2006

What Did Kevin Blier Know About The New Hampshire GOP Phone-jamming Scandal and When Did He Know It?

WELCOME  GreenMountainDaily and Newsie8200's Penndit readers.

ummer vacation is over and we returned expecting to find much of the same old stuff on Kevin Blier.   We weren't disappointed.

There were the usual angry, abusive, bloviating letters to local papers, along with a snippet of a classic Kevin whine buried in an AP story on a setback in his campaign to harm one Vermont family.   We'll come back to them in future posts.

The real eye-opener was from a story in the Union Leader.   It details Kevin's denial of prior knowledge of the 2002 phone-jamming scheme perpetrated during the New Hampshire US Senate campaign.   The scheme led to a felony conviction and time for one unrepentant GOP official.   Other convictions have followed.   The New Hampshire Democratic Party has filed a civil action.   According to court documents (from the Talking Points Memo Document Collection) filed by the plaintiffs, NH Republican State Committee officials have, in statements to the press and in their pleadings, maintained that the crime was committed by "a single rogue employee acting alone."   In June of this year the plaintiffs requested that subpeonas be issued to depose top Republican officials in Washington, DC.   The court granted the request in July.   Also contained in the court documents (see pg 2 of the docs) are references to an FBI interview conducted by the agency and Justice Department attorneys in December of 2003.   In the FBI interview report (also from the Talking Points Memo Document Collection) the then Executive Director for the NH Republican State Committee, Charles "Chuck" McGee, "believes that he told... Kevin Blier," among others who McGee called his confidants, "about the idea" to jam the phones at NH Democratic Regional Offices for the purpose of disrupting their communications on the forthcoming Election Day (see pgs 4 & 6 of the FBI interview docs).   The August 10 TPM item, Dems Allege Broad Conspiracy among New Hampshire GOP can be read here.

Ex-GOP State Staffer Challenges FBI Report
By John DiStaso
(Union Leader) Senior Political Reporter
Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006

A former state Republican Party staffer disputes an FBI report that he may have known about an election day 2002 Republican phone-jamming scheme before it occurred.

Kevin Blier said an FBI report quoted by the New Hampshire Union Leader is incorrect.   He said former state party executive director Charles McGee told him about the phone jam on election night, after the scheme had been put into operation and then halted about 90 minutes later, not before, as the report stated.

The FBI report on its agent's December 2003 interview with McGee was filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court earlier this month in the state Democratic Party's civil suit against the state Republican Party over the phone-jamming incident.

Several FBI interviews were included as an appendices to a motion by state Democratic Party attorney Paul Twomey asking a judge to unseal documents related to an internal state Republican Party probe of the phone jam.

According to the FBI report on its interview with McGee on Dec. 12, 2003, McGee said that after he came up with the idea of blocking Democratic get-out-the-vote lines, "he may have talked with confidants," including Blier, "and (McGee) said he wondered if this was something he could make happen."

In a second passage, the FBI reports, "McGee believes he told" Blier and other staffers "about the idea" before election day.

Blier said yesterday that after reading the Union Leader's initial report on the filing last Friday, he became concerned.

"The inference that I knew about the phone-jamming ahead of time is dead wrong," said Blier, who was the party's paid Rockingham County staff coordinator in 2002.   "I deeply resent the insinuation.   I knew about it on election night.   I knew about it after it had occurred."

Blier said while it is possible that McGee may have been mistaken in what he told the FBI, "I believe the FBI made a mistake in how they reported it.

"The FBI never interviewed me," said Blier. "I know that a lot of people were interviewed or testified, but I was never interviewed or never testified. I knew about it on election night, when Chuck (McGee) told me what had happened."

Blier said state Democratic Party chair Kathy Sullivan, by having court motions filed, "is just trying to get as much mileage as possible from this.   Chuck has been remorseful and has apologized and served time in federal prison.   There are some people who need to just let this thing go.

"This has been blown way out of proportion," Blier said.

"It's nothing more than a high school prank gone bad.   Nobody was denied their right to vote.   What other excuse will Kathy Sullivan make for her losses on election day 2002?"

But Sullivan said yesterday that McGee's FBI report shows that phone jam "goes from being the work of one rogue employee to having a number of people with prior knowledge."

While Blier makes clear that he wasn't interviewed by the FBI, he doesn't address whether he knew that what he alleges McGee subsequently told him constituted a crime and, when he did learn of the criminal investigation, why he didn't come forward to report to investigators what he did know about the crime.   Did he ever tell the FBI, or anyone else involved in the investigation, that he'd relocated to Vermont?   We'd also like to know if Kevin's alleged knowledge of the crime was explored in the NH Republican State Committee's internal investigation, a detail he's yet to address in any published report we could locate.

Given Blier's frequent moral holy-rollering in his capacity as a spokesperson for Vermont Renewal, you'd think he'd know better than to characterize a felony as a "prank."

Makes you wonder who Kevin could be a staffer for and "confidant" of in this year's upcoming Vermont election.

What do fellow GOP conservatives say about The Center for American Cultural Renewal? "...(A)n organization with no Washington presence and little clout with social conservatives outside Vermont where it is based."


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