Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Did Holder Go Easy on Republican Phone Jammer?

The criminal case against Republican organizer James Tobin, famed for his role in the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming caper, came to an end last week.

It appears that Tobin, like former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), caught a break from the Obama Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder. And it should be noted that Tobin, like Stevens, was represented by the Washington, D.C., firm Williams & Connolly, which produced Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig.

Democrats, such as former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and Mississippi attorney Paul Minor, should be so fortunate.

The Tobin case was fairly convoluted, but the bottom line is this: The Justice Department, led by Eric Holder, dropped the case against a GOP hatchet man.

Here is how the Bangor (ME) Daily News describes the Tobin case:

Tobin’s legal saga began on Election Day in 2002, when the phone lines for New Hampshire Democrats’ get-out-the-vote effort were jammed for a brief time. Tobin was convicted in December 2005 by a federal jury in Concord, N.H., of being part of a conspiracy to jam the phone lines. He was acquitted on the more serious charge of violating residents’ constitutional right to vote.

The 1st Circuit overturned his conviction in 2007. It found that the telephone harassment statute was not a good fit for what Tobin had been convicted of doing.

After the conviction was overturned, federal prosecutors brought new charges against Tobin in Maine for lying to FBI agents. What happened next? Prepare for a shocker. Here's how the Bangor Daily News described it:

U.S. District Judge George Z. Singal in February dismissed the Maine charges on the basis of vindictive prosecution. Federal prosecutors on March 17 appealed Singal’s decision but on May 1 filed a motion to dismiss it.

You heard that right. A federal judge dismissed charges against a Republican phone jammer on the basis of "vindictive prosecution." If Don Siegelman and Paul Minor are drinking coffee when they read that sentence, they surely will spew it across the room.

You also read the last sentence from the Bangor newspaper correctly. The Holder-led Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the appeal of the judge's decision.

End of case. And a Republican scoundrel goes free.

At last report, Holder had made no effort to review either the Siegelman or Minor cases.

We are now a little more than four months into the Obama administration. And for those of you keeping score on justice issues at home, it's now:

Republicans 2, Democrats 0.


Robby Scott Hill said...

Could it be true that Barack Obama and Eric Holder do intend to eventually drop charges against Don Siegelman, but they are dragging their feet to ensure that Don Siegelman will not be a threat to Artur Davis' Gubernatorial ambitions? It's not that Don Siegelman will actually run for Governor if he's vindicated. It's that The Business Council of Alabama and Alabama Power are backing Artur Davis because they realize that the days of "White Confederate Men" like Bob Riley and Emory Folmar are over and Obama doesn't want Artur Davis to lose the money that The Business Council is offering.

legalschnauzer said...

Very interesting point. I think you are ahead of the crowd with this one.