GOP Consultant Sentenced in Phone Jamming
The former head of a Republican consulting group was sentenced Tuesday to five months in jail for jamming Democratic telephone lines in several New Hampshire cities during the 2002 election. Allen Raymond, who was president of the Alexandria, Va.-based GOP Marketplace LLC at the time, did not comment as he left the U.S. District Court sentencing. He also was fined $15,600. He had pleaded guilty in July.
Court papers say Raymond and co-conspirators plotted to jam Democratic lines that voters could call for rides to the polls in Manchester, Nashua, Rochester and Claremont. A line run by the nonpartisan Manchester firefighters’ union also was jammed. The blizzard of more than 800 computer-generated calls lasted about 90 minutes on Nov. 5, 2002, as voters decided races for governor, U.S. senator and hundreds of other offices. State Republicans acknowledged two years ago they hired GOP Marketplace. But then-Republican Chairwoman Jayne Millerick said the company was paid $15,600 for telemarketing services to encourage people to vote Republican, not to jam lines.
The wheels of justice certainly turned slowly on this one. Absent other evidence, I’ll take the Chairwoman at her word that Raymond’s actions weren’t orchestrated by the party. Still, this is an embarrasing episode for the GOP, tantamount to the various incidents perpetrated by the other side in this past election, such as the notorious tire slashings. Hardball campaigning is one thing; this is another thing entirely.
If a small fine and five months in jail represent anything close to the maximum sentence available, we should change the statutes to increase the penalties dramatically. Attempts to disrupt the democratic process in this way are despicable and should be punished severely.