This is another Republican scandal that will be playing out over the next 6 months or so. It will be interesting to see where it lands. I don't contend that Bush himself had knowledge of the scheme, but it would not surprise me if there was knowledge by some in the White House, including Ken Mehlman himself.
2002 N.H. Scandal Shadows GOP Anew
By Thomas B. Edsall and David A Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, April 14, 2006; A06
A three-year-old political scandal in New Hampshire -- where Republican operatives conspired to jam Democratic get-out-the-vote phone lines on Election Day 2002 -- has suddenly become a national headache for GOP leaders, who are being pressed to explain why one author of the scheme was repeatedly calling the White House.
A Democratic activist group, combing through evidence from a trial last year in which the former New England regional director of the Republican National Committee was convicted, uncovered 22 calls from New Hampshire officials to the White House political office on Nov. 5-6, 2002. During the same time, according to prosecutors, state GOP officials started -- and then frantically sought to stop -- a plan to have a telemarketer bombard the phone banks of Democrats and a local firefighters association that was offering voters rides to the polls.
The nuisance calls were blamed for paralyzing part of the Democratic operation during the first hours of a close-fought Senate race that Republican John E. Sununu eventually won against then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D). With the revelation of the calls, a state-level scandal has become a national issue, and a top political hand to President Bush has been pressed for answers.
Ken Mehlman, former director of the White House political office and current chairman of the Republican National Committee is fighting Democratic efforts to force him to testify under oath in a civil suit about the New Hampshire scandal. Mehlman said the calls from James Tobin -- a consultant who in 2002 led the RNC's New England effort -- were for the White House to get the latest information about a close race, which would be unexceptional on election night. He said none of the calls to him or his staff involved the phone-jamming operation.