Monday, January 29, 2007

Rudy Hires “Clean Semprini” for Help in New Hampshire?

It only took one phone call for Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani to reach Wayne Semprini and request his service in New Hampshire. In 2002 the “Live Free or Die” state stood at the center of political controversy. Republican operative James Tobin hired a company to block Democratic phone lines arranging rides for voters. For this Mr. Tobin has been sentenced to jail time. Will his Bush Pioneer status work into any future presidential pardons?

Mr. Semprini weighed in on the lawsuits, even suggesting the criminal work the result of “a few unauthorized individuals” and not the Republican Party. This claim becomes questionable when the roles of those individuals are examined. The three people named in criminal cases include:

1. Executive Director of New Hampshire’s Republican Committee-Charles McGee
2. Republican National Committee Operative-James Tobin
3. Consultant Head of GOP Marketplace-Allen Raymond

The Executive Director paid the consultant $15,000 to find someone to carry out the phone jamming scheme. Does the Granite State’s Republican Committee not have internal financial controls? Who signed the $15,600 check besides Mr. McGee? Did then chair John Dowd ink the check?

Mr. Semprini said his committee deplored the phone blocking incident and does not endorse illegal or improper election tactics. While it may not endorse such practices, it does defend them. One news story said the various Republican Committees paid some $3 million to defend the gentlemen in question.

And what happened to the criminals afterwards? Charles McGee, rather than a pariah, continues to benefit as a member of the GOP fold. Karl Rove came to New Hampshire to conduct a fundraiser to replenish funds drained by the state’s portion of the legal defense, which eventually rose to over $400,000.

What Mr. Semprini left out is notable.

The FBI's 2003 interview with NHRSC Executive Director Chuck McGee is especially revealing in this regard [we've posted it here]. McGee, who has said he originally hatched the plan to jam Democrat's phones, told the FBI that he'd discussed the jamming before Election Day with the NHRSC's Chair, the Vice Chair, Finance Director, and four other senior level Republican staffers in the state. McGee pled guilty for his role in the jamming and has already served his time.
McGee said that the Party's Chairman John Dowd gave him the go-ahead the night before the election [Dowd, for his part, admitted to The New Hampshire Union Leader that McGee told him of the plan, but said he did not authorize it]; that the Vice Chair gave him the number of the Manchester Professional Firefighters Union, one of the jamming's targets; and that the Financial Director, who signed the check to pay for the jamming, disclosed to the FEC that the money was for "GOTV" (Get Out the Vote efforts) when she knew what it was really for [she corroborated this in her interview with the FBI].


Despite the apparent widespread knowledge within the NHRSC about McGee's plan, the NHRSC has tried to portray themselves as "the innocent victim of a single rogue employee acting alone," the Dems write in their motion.

Will Mr. Semprini be able to work similar magic with Rudy’s romantic history? Or will he be charged with helping the public forget some of Mr. Giuliani’s prior moderate positions?

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