Sunday, March 11, 2007

US Attorney scandal...of NH phone-jamming

MiniElephant: Elephant, labeled "GOP Phone Jammer Follies", crushing telephone. Hey--what about the US Attorneys who didn't get fired? Paul Krugman is asking (free link here)--and it's a good question.

Check out the US Attorney in charge of the NH phone-jamming, Thomas J Colantuono. Does Gonzales give prizes for slow response to Republican dirty tricks? It took Colantuono's people more than a year before the FBI questioned their top/only suspect in the NH phone-jamming, a crime by Republicans.

But in other matters, Colantuono could move fast. Just before the 2004 elections, he moved fast to block Democrats from questioning phone-jamming suspects--and fast again to file corruption charges against a NH Democrat.

In 2006, right after the Democrats' landmark electoral victory, Colantuono also moved fast to shut down his phone-jamming enquiries, making a guilty plea deal with the last defendant that gave the Feds nothing and the Republicans everything.

When Republicans commit crimes, Colantuono moves sloowwwwwly:

Nov. 5, 2002: During a tight race for a US Senate seat, phone lines to 5 get-out-the-vote operations run by NH Democrats around the state, and one GOTV operation run by the Manchester Firefighters' Association, are swamped by repeated hang-up phone calls from Idaho. Republican John Sununu wins the Senate seat.

Feb. 7, 2003: Union Leader headline "Dirty tricks: Federal officials alerted by police to alleged GOP phone jamming". Article names Chuck McGee, Allen Raymond, GOP Marketplace, and Mylo Enterprises, the company owned by Shaun Hansen.

Feb 20, 2003: Union Leader reports that GOP Marketplace has shut down its website in anticipation of investigation; their lawyer says no federal investigators have contacted them.

December, 2003. More than a year after the phone jamming, FBI first interviews Chuck McGee.

More timeline here

When Democrats have problems, Colantuono moves fast:

On June 10, 2004, NH State Senator Burt Cohen dropped out of the US Senate race against incumbent Judd Gregg (R, NH) after controversy surfaced about Cohen's campaign manager Jesse D Burchfeld. Cohen's withdrawal so close to election left Democrats without a credible candidate. In November of 2004, Gregg defeated his opponent "Granny D" Haddock (aged 94) by a 66 to 34% margin--and Burchfield pled guilty to making false statements to the FCC.

The problem surfaced in June, 2004, but by August, 2004 (well in time for the 2004 election) Colantuono had sent out a press release describing the charges against Jesse Burchfeld, with liberal mention of Democrat Burt Cohen.

Yes, within two months after a Democrat's problem surfaced, Colantuono could not just investigate but file charges.

2004 was a Presidential election year, as you may recall (and Mrs. Colantuono's innovative pro-GOP tactics made local news). And, in 2004, US Attorney Colantuono could move fast not just to start enquiries but also to block them.

August 11, 2004: US Department of Justice Attorney Todd Hinnen, who obtained guilty pleas from McGee and Raymond that mention an unnamed "official in a national political organization", will be pulled off the phone-jamming case.

October 11, 2004: Josh Marshall identifies James Tobin as the (still unindicted) Republican official mentioned by Hinnen.

October 15, 2004: James Tobin resigns as Bush-Cheney New England campaign chair.

October 21, 2004: Twenty minutes before Democrats are set to depose to interview phone-jamming witnesses for their civil suit, the DOJ intervenes to shut down their investigation for six months.

But--slow again--James Tobin was not indicted until December 2004, safely after the Presidential election. And his trial was scheduled, once again post-election, in December of 2005.

And--fast again--US Federal Attorneys for NH and Idaho moved fast in 2006, to accept a deeply-flawed guilty plea from their very last phone-jamming defendant.

So, if you're wondering how the Bush Justice Department would like all its US Attorneys to act...

Will somebody notice that it's almost a year that Colantuono's many ties to the GOP prompted a request to Gonzales for a special prosecutor on the NH phone jamming?


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