N.H. Democrats settle phone-jamming lawsuit

/ Source: The Associated Press

The New Hampshire Democratic Party, which had sought compensation in an Election Day 2002 phone-jamming scheme, settled its lawsuit against the GOP for an undisclosed amount, state Republicans said Friday.

The announcement came just days before the case was expected to go to trial on Monday in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

Republicans had hired a telemarketing firm to place hundreds of hang-up calls to phone banks for the Democratic Party and the Manchester firefighters union, a nonpartisan group offering rides to the pools. Service was disrupted for nearly two hours.

"As we have previously stated, the New Hampshire Republican State Committee deplores the phone jamming incident that took place in New Hampshire in 2002," Republican State Committee chairman Wayne Semprini said in a statement.

Kathy Sullivan, state Democratic Party chairwoman, said she would not comment on the matter until Saturday. Ray Buckley, vice chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and named as a plaintiff, said party officials agreed that Sullivan would make any comments on the case.

Democrats had argued they should be able to go after more than $4 million in damages — the cost of seven months work for the get-out-the-vote effort.

The announcement of a settlement came two days after a judge ruled Democrats could go after more than just the cost of renting and using the phones jammed by Republicans — but not as much as the Democrats wanted. The ruling did offer the Democrats the right to argue the GOP jamming hindered their attempt to boost voter turnout.

Republicans wanted Judge Philip Mangones to rule the Democrats could only claim $4,974 in damages — the cost of renting and using phones for the get-out-the-vote campaign.