Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What Did Kevin Blier Know About The NH GOP Phone-jamming Scandal...  Part Two

he original feature story in the Manchester, NH Union Leader on the New Hampshire phone-jamming scheme hatched by a NH GOP party executive director, and that was reportedly known in advance by several of his confidants, and that subsequently prompted Kevin Blier's problematic denial, is posted below. It's interesting to note how that organization, whose so-called "rogue" members who were the source of the felonious attempt to suppress voter turnout, tries to paint itself as the victim.

Sound familiar?

Battle rages on over GOP phone-jamming
By John DiStaso
(Union Leader) Senior Political Reporter
Friday, Aug. 11, 2006

MANCHESTER -- Nearly four years after the incident occurred, allegations continue to fly in a two-year-old civil suit pitting the state Democratic Party against the state GOP over a Republican Election Day 2002 phone jamming scheme.

In a motion filed this week in Hillsborough County Superior Court, Democrats say FBI files show several former state Republican officials and/or staffers appeared to have had advance knowledge of former party executive director Charles McGee's plan to jam Democratic and firefighters' union get-out-the-vote telephone lines with hang-up calls.

The state GOP has long insisted the McGee masterminded the operation as a "rogue" employee. GOP attorney Ovide Lamontagne said yesterday the new motion and FBI files contain nothing new to contradict its stance and adds nothing new to the suit.

Republicans, meanwhile, charge the civil suit, filed by the Democrats nearly two years after the incident occurred, is part of a ploy to manipulate the court system and media for political gain.

In an amended counter-claim currently under advisement by the court, the state GOP points to a 66-page manual that the Democratic National Committee distributed to its state affiliates prior to the 2004 election. "How to Prevent and Combat Voter Intimidation" instructed party organizers to devise strategies that would publicize alleged GOP efforts to suppress voter turnout.

"Significantly," the Republican motion states, "the manual proposed that even where no evidence of voter suppression exists, organizers should nevertheless launch a 'pre-emptive strike' - including litigation - to alert the public of past instances of alleged Republican misconduct."

The GOP motion says the state Democratic Party's conduct in the lawsuit "parallels to an astonishing degree the very tactics called for by the DNC manual."

It says the Democratic Party, while refusing to discuss a settlement, treats the litigation "as a continuous media event" and "is the very embodiment of the DNC's national strategy of using the judicial system and media to launch a 'pre-emptive strike' and legal action against Republicans prior to the 2004 election."

Democratic attorney Paul Twomey's motion asks Superior Court Judge Philip Mangones to release all Republican State Committee documents related to an internal party probe of the phone-jam that had been sealed under the attorney-client privilege.

Twomey said the privilege has been rendered inapplicable because the Republicans "engaged in a pattern of fraudulent concealment of their real role" in the operation.

GOP attorney Lamontagne said the court "has already ruled on the motion that they raise" when the documents were initially sealed.

"There is nothing new here," Lamontagne said. "This is a continuation of their victimization of our party and further evidence of the efforts by the Democrats to use the litigation for political purposes."

Twomey's motion contains FBI interviews of McGee, former state GOP chairman John Dowd, former party finance director Kristy Stuart and Concord GOP chairman Jeffrey Newman.

McGee, who last year served seven months in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges, told the FBI that he came up with the idea of blocking the phone lines a few weeks before the 2002 election. He said he contacted veteran strategist Brian McCabe, who told McGee he had "never heard of an idea such as this," according to the FBI report.

McGee told investigators that former Republican National Committee regional political director James Tobin, who is appealing a December 2005 conviction on telephone harassment conspiracy charges, "did not say 'no' when he brought up the idea of phone blocking on election day." Tobin gave McGee the telephone number of former GOP consultant Allen Raymond, who McGee later hired to set up the phone jam and who subcontracted with an Idaho telemarketer to make the calls.

The FBI file says McGee "believes he told (GOP activists) Chris Wood, Kevin Blier, (former party vice chair) Marc Pappas and (former state party public relations specialist) Jeff Fontaine about the idea. McGee told the FBI Pappas gave McGee the telephone number of the Manchester Professional Fire Fighters Association, whose telephones were jammed along with those in five Democratic Party offices.

McGee said he told Dowd about his idea a day or two before the election. McGee said Dowd told him he would check with former party legal council David Vicinanzo.

But McGee said Dowd did not initially veto the idea, which McGee viewed as an "OK."

Dowd told the FBI that McGee informed him of the operation the evening before Election Day. Dowd said he told McGee he would think about it and did not give him an answer.

Dowd, after speaking with Vicinanzo early on Election Day morning, called off the phone-jam, but only after it had begun and had been underway for more than an hour.

The Democratic motion alleges, "By Election Day, 2002, the Chair, the Vice Chair, the Executive Director, the Finance Director, the Concord GOP Chair and three other staffers at the (GOP state committee) were all likely to have been aware of the impending felony. Not a single one of them sought to dissuade McGee; no one warned the intended victims; no one called the police."

Stuart told the FBI she drafted and signed Dowd's name to a state GOP's check to Raymond's GOP Marketplace firm after McGee told her it would pay a firm to "make repeated hang-up calls to the Democratic offices in New Hampshire on election day."

She said that under instructions by McGee, she reported purpose of the disbursement to the Federal Election Commission as "get out the vote." The Democratic motion charges the "false" purpose was entered "to cover up the crimes" of the state committee.

Regardless of whatever the truth may be about when he learned of the criminal plan, the question still remains, why didn't Kevin Blier come forward to report what he knew about the crime? What does this say about him as a would-be public policy advocate and executive director for a holier-than-thou group like Vermont Renewal?

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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