Powerful California Congressman John Doolittle (CA-4) is finding himself under some intense scrutiny in his own district for his ties to Republican rainmaker, Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham money man, Brent Wilkes.
The Auburn Journal takes a close look at Doolittle's connections and denials. The Journal points out that Doolittle's links with the growing circle of Republican scandals is finally starting to resonate in his eastern California district.
"Tied to the headline-grabbing Abramoff scandal, linked by his close association to embattled former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and with funding for the political action committee he administers coming from co-conspirators in the "Duke" Cunningham political corruption case, Doolittle has become embroiled with dozens of other lawmakers in a series of developments that threaten to bring down the Republican House majority his party has held since the mid-1990s.
More in extended.
Thousands of miles away from the growing political storm clouds in Washington, D.C., Auburn-area residents are beginning to hear more about Doolittle's connections to a series of developments linking lobbyists and politicians. Doolittle has served as the District 4 congressman since 1991, rising to positions on the influential Appropriations Committee and as Republican conference secretary."
Doolittle's connections to Abramoff include what is a very familiar Abramoff tactic of hiring a congressman's staff members and spouses.
"The nation's leading newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times have all weighed in, with the Post quoting unnamed sources close to the Abramoff investigation saying that "Abramoff's connections to Doolittle are also of interest" to investigators and prosecutors.
The Post report outlines the connections between the congressman and the lobbyist that the unnamed sources state are now under Justice Department scrutiny. Kevin Ring, Doolittle's chief of staff in the mid-1990s and now a lobbyist for the city of Lincoln, worked for Abramoff. Doolittle's wife, Julie, also worked for Abramoff and his firm raising funds for a charity the lobbyist had created.
"Two sources close to the investigation said that Ring, while working from Abramoff, was an intermediary in the hiring of Julie Doolittle's firm, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc., which last year received a subpoena from the grand jury investigating Abramoff," the Post reported."
Mrs. Doolittle's business is apparently a very successful PR and fund raising venture. It's major customer is Congressman Doolittle's very own Superior California Fed Leadership PAC. Mrs. Doolittle's company receives a piece of the action for every dollar she raises for her husband's political activities. Considering Doolittle's powerful position on the House Appropriation Committee, his PAC is of interest to those wishing to buy influence Washington.
"Doolittle Chief of Staff Richard Robinson defended Julie Doolittle and Sierra Dominion's fund-raising activities. Describing Julie Doolittle as "one of the most capable and hardest-working people I know," Robinson characterized Sierra Dominion as an effective small business owned by the congressman's wife that provides marketing, event planning, fundraising and related services to several clients, including her husband's Superior California Fed Leadership PAC.
"Consistent with other fund raisers, Sierra Dominion receives a commission on all funds it is directly involved in raising," Robinson said. "Through Julie Doolittle's highly skilled personal efforts as part of Sierra Dominion work, she has caused the congressman's leadership PAC to be increasingly successful in raising funds for the preservation of our Republican majority."
Let's see, former chief of staff - worked for Abramoff and now an independent lobbyist. Wife - worked for Abramoff and now gets paid from PAC funds for doing PR work for husband. Cozy relationships that appear to be profitable to all.
In fact, Julie Doolittle's business also profited from Cunningham Co-conspirator #1, Brent Wilkes' largess to her husband.
"Federal filings show Brent Wilkes and his wife, Regina Wilkes both contributing $5,000 to the Superior California fund on Feb. 10, 2004 - part of $46,000 in contributions that were made during the 2003-04 funding cycle by Wilkes and associates. A total of $496,941 in contributions to the fund was made from all sources during the two-year cycle.
During the same 2003-2004 election funding cycle, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions received $74,939 in what are described in the filing as fundraising commissions. The total includes a payment of $4,500 received five days after the Wilkes' donations. Over the 24-month filing period, Julie Doolittle would receive eight payments of $4,200 or more, plus several smaller payments."
What a convenient and effective way for big buck contributor's such as Wilkes to give money directly to a congressman. If Duke Cunningham has used this sort of this money laundering scheme he would still be in Congress.
So far the Republican congress of corruption has three solid members on the House Appropriations Committee:
Jerry Lewis (CA-41) Chairman UNIDICTED
John Doolittle (CA-4) Member UNIDICTED
Randy Cunningham (CA-50) Member INDICTED AND CONVICTED
One down, two to go.
Crossposted at Words Have Power.