BOSTON, Feb. 8 -- A federal judge in New Hampshire sentenced the former president of an Alexandria political consulting firm on Tuesday to five months in prison, the first jail term handed out in connection with the jamming of state Democratic Party phone lines on Election Day in 2002.
Allen Raymond, who headed the now-defunct company GOP Marketplace, which was hired by New Hampshire Republicans for election-related telemarketing services, pleaded guilty last summer to one count of conspiring to make harassing phone calls.
He apologized before U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico, who imposed the sentence. It included a $15,600 fine.
"Your honor, I did a bad thing," he said, according to the Associated Press. "While what I did was outside my character, I take full responsibility for my actions."
Raymond was the first to be sentenced of three men charged after the revelation that Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts in Manchester, Nashua, Rochester and Claremont were peppered with more than 800 computer-generated calls over a period of 90 minutes on the morning of Nov. 5, 2002.
Firefighters in Manchester, who were offering rides to the polls independently of the two parties, were also targeted, prosecutors said. Police later determined that an Idaho-based firm called Milo Enterprises had been engaged by GOP Marketplace to make automated hang-up calls.
State Democratic Party Chairman Kathy Sullivan said the incident -- which occurred as voters were choosing a senator, two House members, a governor and many state officials -- was designed to boost GOP prospects by suppressing turnout. Republicans swept most major races that day.
"They were trying to make it difficult for seniors and people who were economically depressed to get to vote," Sullivan said. "This was way more than a dirty trick. This was a serious crime, and the judge clearly took it seriously."
Republican State Committee Chairman Warren Henderson said in a written statement that he was "personally offended at this illegal and unethical assault on the integrity of our democratic process."
"The Republican Party of New Hampshire does not condone this kind of behavior, and is repulsed by the actions of Mr. Raymond," he added.
Chuck McGee, who resigned as executive director of the state GOP after the incident, has also pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. He has not been sentenced.
Jim Tobin of Bangor, Maine, who resigned in October as New England regional chairman of President Bush's 2004 reelection campaign, has been charged with two counts each of conspiracy to commit telephone harassment and aiding and abetting telephone harassment. He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
Raymond's attorney, John Durkin, did not return a telephone call seeking comment. He said in court that his client had been manipulated by senior Republican officials, provoking a heated exchange with the judge.
"This was not Allen Raymond's idea," he said, according to AP. "Tobin called on Raymond to do this."
"What about common sense?" DiClerico responded. "What about a personal moral compass?"