They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

AP reports:

A Republican Party official and Jack Abramoff's lobbying team bluntly discussed using large political donations as a way to pressure lawmakers into securing federal money for a tribal client, according to e-mails gathered by prosecutors.

The e-mails detail how Abramoff's team worked to leverage assistance from the White House, Congress and the GOP to get a reluctant federal agency and a single Republican congressional aide to stop blocking school construction money for the Saginaw Chippewa tribe. The e-mails were obtained by The Associated Press.

Abramoff's team ultimately prevailed when the congressional aide was overruled, several lawmakers pressured an Interior Department agency and Congress itself set aside the money for the tribe. Lawmakers who helped got thousands of dollars in fresh donations from Abramoff's team.

Who at the White House was talking with political operative James Tobin on the day of the New Hampshire phone jamming, Paul asked earlier? The Hotline on Call's Marc Ambinder puts his money on Alicia Davis.

During the 2002 elections Davis was northeast regional director in the White House's political office, Ambinder says, so she would be the logical person for Tobin to coordinate with. In a phone conversation, Ambinder said he had also spoken with knowledgeable insiders in the past who had confirmed his suspicions.

What does Davis say about all this? That's what we'd like to know. Davis left the White House in 2004 to work for the Republican National Committee; after the election she took an appointee slot at the Commerce Department, according to CongressDaily. Commerce told us she left "four or five months ago" for the RNC. The RNC political office in D.C. confirmed she worked there, "but not out of this office."

The AP, in their story on calls to the White House, noted one call in particular, a 17 minute call from Jayne Millerick, then a GOP strategist working on the 2002 election. This was with the same number at the White House's Office of Political Affairs that James Tobin called so frequently.

The AP simply noted the call, and reported Millerick as saying that she "did not recall the subject" and that she hadn't learned of the plot until after the election.

But details from the phone records analyized by the Senate Majority Project suggest that Millerick was fully aware of the plot to jam the New Hampshire Democratic Party's phone lines and seriously concerned about its legality on the day of the jamming. If that's true, it suggests that the jamming was definitely on her mind when she phoned the White House on the afternoon of the crime. That call lasted from 2:59 PM to 3:16 PM.

Millerick made a run of calls on the day of the jamming that suggest that she was looking for legal advice:

At 10:32 AM on Election Day, for example, Millerick phoned the law firm of Nixon Peabody. It's been previously reported that former NH GOP chair John Dowd had ordered the jamming stopped after receiving legal advice from a lawyer named David Vicinanzo on Election Day morning. Nixon Peabody is Vicinanzo's firm.

Immediately following the call to that law firm, Jayne Millerick placed three calls to David Horan, a criminal defense attorney.

When contacted by phone by, Millerick again asserted that she'd known nothing about the jamming until after the election. When asked about the calls to these lawyers, she said that she wanted to review the records before commenting. She has not replied since receiving the records.

Late Update: We've posted the call analysis for you to see here. Millerick's calls to the lawyers are on page 2, and her call to the White House is on page 4.

Late Late Update: Millerick says the calls were to find Republican lawyers to watch the polls.

You've probably never heard of Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY). He's a freshman congressman. And he's got a problem letting go.

Today, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the lawmaker is refusing to return a $500 contribution from Tony Rudy, a former staffer from Rep. Tom DeLay's (R-TX) office who has pleaded guilty to felony charges of bribery and conspiracy.

Previously, Davis has refused to return $11,000 from Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), and $30,000 from DeLay's ARMPAC, whose fishy finances won the former majority leader an indictment.

"I just don't think Geoff gets it," Bob Doyle, the spokesman for Davis' Dem challenger, told the paper.

Ken Mehlman knows who James Tobin was calling in the White House, and DNC Chairman Howard Dean wrote to him today calling on him to fess up:

"James Tobin called the White House two dozen times in three days. Whom was he calling? With whom did he speak? Whom did he work with in the office of political affairs?"

Dean's letter to Mehlman below the fold...

Read More →

As the AP reported yesterday, James Tobin, the RNC regional political director who helped orchestrate the New Hampshire phone jamming, was in very frequent contact with the White House.

But who at the White House? Tobin was calling one number, a number in the White House's Office of Political Affairs - which was run by Ken Mehlman at the time. Whose number was it?

The AP asked the White House who Tobin was calling, but they were stonewalled .

Tobin's called this number 110 times between Sept. 17 and Nov. 22, 2002. And as I pointed out earlier, it was this number Tobin called on the morning of the jamming, shortly after speaking with someone at the New Hampshire Republican State Committee.

So here's the central question: Who were all these calls to the White House going to? Who was Tobin reporting to in the chain of command?

It's a long shot, but if embattled former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) can fend off current and any future criminal charges, he could land a sweet gig on K Street, Congressional Quarterly's Shawn Zeller finds:

"What would set him apart is his strategic insight," says Charlie Black, a Republican lobbyist with BKSH & Associates. "He accomplished more in winning votes on the House floor than anyone in the last 20 years."

So does that mean that Black is planning to keep a desk free for DeLay come 2007? "I doubt if I could afford him," he says. "But he can come here and work with us anytime he wants."

Fitzgerald: Bush Put "Bully" in "Bully Pulpit"

The New York Times today looks at the impact on President Bush of the special prosecutor's recent filing in the Libby case, and finds W pitched back into the middle of the fray. The long and short of it, the NYT says via Fitz, is that the White House was out to get Joe Wilson, who went public to debunk the White House's misinformation leaks about Iraq's efforts to get uranium:

Mr. Fitzgerald's filing talks not of an effort to level with Americans but of "a plan to discredit, punish or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson." It concludes, "It is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to 'punish Wilson.' "

For his part, Bush said yesterday he prompted Libby to leak so Americans could know "the truth." "I thought it made sense for people to see the truth. That's why I declassified the document," he told reporters.

Is it no surprise, then, that a president who leaks misinformation to "punish or seek revenge" on a critic, then tells Americans it was for their own good, sees his poll numbers drop to record lows? (New York Times, Reuters)

Read More →

James Tobin, the RNC big-wig who helped orchestrate the now-famous New Hampshire phone jamming of 2002, made a lot of calls the day of the crime - but three in particular indicate that his superiors at the White House's Office of Political Operations, then run by Ken Mehlman, may have known what he was up to. They show, in rapid succession on the morning of the jamming, Tobin checking his voice mail, then calling the New Hampshire Republican State Committee (NHRSC), and then calling the White House.

What this means is that Tobin placed his first call to the White House on the day of the crime shortly after speaking with someone at the NHRSC. The NHRSC, you'll remember, was the seat of the conspiracy - Chuck McGee, the Executive Director, had hatched the plan and hired a firm to carry it out. This first conversation between Tobin and whoever he spoke with at NHRSC was very likely to have covered the topic of the jamming, since it had been aborted earlier that morning. And it was right after this conversation that Tobin called the White House.

Read More →

The AP has a story this afternoon about James Tobin's contacts with the White House around Election Day, 2002, the day that the New Hampshire GOP jammed the phones for Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts. Tobin was the RNC's New England Regional Political Director at the time, and a key figure in orchestrating the jamming.

As far as details go, there's not much more here than what we learned back in March: that Tobin was in very close touch with the White House's political affairs office around the same time that he helped plan the jamming. As we noted then, he called the White House twelve times on the big day.

Democrats are pressing a civil suit against the GOP in New Hampshire, and they plan to ask a federal judge tomorrow "to order GOP and White House officials to answer questions about the phone jamming in a civil lawsuit alleging voter fraud."