Depositions of GOP Officials Allowed

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, July 14, 2006

New Hampshire Democrats hoping to uncover who knew about plans to jam their phone lines on Election Day 2002 are free to seek depositions from senior Republicans in a civil lawsuit flowing from the controversy, a state judge ruled yesterday.

The judge said the state Democratic Party could ask for White House phone records for then-White House political director Ken Mehlman, now chairman of the Republican National Committee, and seek to question former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, former RNC political operations director Terry Nelson and others.

Rob Kelner, a lawyer representing the RNC, noted that even under Hillsborough County Superior Judge Philip Mangones's decision, "those individuals and the White House will have the right to decide whether to challenge the subpoenas."

The ruling is part of a civil suit filed by the state Democratic Party against the state Republican Party and other Republicans that seeks damages for the phone jamming incident, in which the GOP allegedly tied up phone lines of Democrats and a firefighters union trying to turn out the vote in 2002. Sen. John E. Sununu (R) eventually won by 19,151 votes.

Three former GOP officials were convicted after a criminal investigation. Documents released by Democrats show that former RNC official James Tobin -- one of the men convicted -- had contacted the White House more than 20 times as the phone jamming operation was carried out. Later, the RNC spent millions on Tobin's legal defense.

Others whom the Democrats can subpoena include Alicia Davis, Mehlman's White House deputy; Chris LaCivita, Tobin's former boss; Chris Cupit, a political consultant who worked with one of the men convicted; and Darrell Henry, a lobbyist at the time.

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