It’d be hard to blame GOP bigwig Ken Mehlman for breathing a sigh of relief this morning.
The Bangor Daily News reports that a judge yesterday dismissed the case against James Tobin, the former GOP official who was accused of participating in a plot to jam the phones of the New Hampshire Democratic party on Election Day 2002.
Tobin had in 2005 been convicted of participating in the plot, but that conviction was overturned two years later. This time, he was charged with lying to the FBI about his role in the scheme.
But US District Court Judge George Singal ruled that bringing charges against Tobin in Maine, where Tobin lives, after he had been cleared in New Hampshire of the original charges, qualified as a “vindictive prosecution”.
Two other people — the head of the New Hampshire GOP and a Republican consultant — have served jail time for their roles in the phone jamming, which may have played a role in John Sununu’s defeat of Jeanne Shaheen in the U.S. Senate race that year.
Phone records released in those cases show that Tobin, at the time a New-England-based staffer for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, made two dozen calls to the office of Mehlman, then-White House political director, within a three-day period around Election Day 2002. Mehlman has said none of the calls involved the phone-jamming incident.
But the Republican National Committee has admitted to paying Tobin’s legal bills during that case, totaling nearly $3 million.