Earlier, we noted today's San Diego Union-Tribune piece on Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA). The basic charge underlying the piece is that Brent Wilkes, a crooked defense contractor, paid $14,400 to Doolittle. Doolittle then went to bat for Wilkes, ultimately delivering $37 million in earmarks for a technology the Pentagon didn't want.
In other words, you could make a case that this was old-fashioned bribery, the Duke Cunningham variety, in which a Congressman personally benefits from an interested party in return for an official favor.
The money we're talking about here was paid to Doolittle's wife's consulting company. And the more you look at that arrangement, the more it's clear that this $14,400 is just the tip of the iceberg. There was a lot more money coming into Julie Doolittle. We just don't know how much.
Let's break it down.
Julie Doolittle has a consulting firm called Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions. Two of her clients are her husband's leadership PAC and campaign, for which she does fundraising. She gets a 15% commission on contributions. Doolittle's hilarious justification for paying her on commission is that she has to work for her money, "because if you don't raise any money you don't get paid." So we're supposed to think of this little arrangement as a high-minded application of free market principles. Keep in mind that Doolittle is in a securely Republican district and that he sits on the Appropriations Committee. This is not a man who's been in danger of losing his seat; fundraising is not much of a task. According to the SDUT- and I find this hard to believe - he outraised his last opponent by $935,907 to $2,300.
So this was in effect free money. Doolittle was in a very strong position to raise funds. By his own admission, his wife even got a cut of contributions resulting from his fundraising calls - all she had to do was bring him the list.
And let's not forget here that Abramoff, his associates and clients gave Doolittle some $140,000 in contributions since 1999. How much did Julie Doolittle get of that?
But it gets fishier.
Doolittle has said that he is not his wife's major client. But the SDUT reports that she's gotten $180,000 in commissions since late 2001 - so she brings in around $60,000 a year from just his business, even though he's supposedly a minor client. Neither Doolittle nor his wife will say who those other clients are, and as Josh points out, of the only other three that we know about, two are Jack Abramoff's restaurant and charity, and the other is connected to Ed Buckham, another player in the Abramoff scandal.
So all of Julie Doolittle's other business we know about just points to a more direct means of paying the Doolittles.
Buckham, in addition to working closely with Abramoff, was Wilkes' lobbyist. And according to the SDUT, Julie Doolittle was working in Buckham's office when Doolittle met Wilkes. She was doing "bookkeeping" for one of Buckham's non-profits there. It's never been reported how much she was paid for this. Buckham's firm Alexander Strategy Group paid Tom DeLay's wife Christine $3,200/month for her work for them. How much was Julie Doolittle getting?
Also never reported is how much Abramoff paid Julie Doolittle. You might call it suspicious that one of her jobs for Abramoff was planning an event that never occurred.
It's pretty amazing to think of what a jack of all trades this Julie Doolittle is. She did fundraising for Doolittle, bookkeeping for Buckham, and "public relations and other event planning services" for Abramoff. It almost seems like the job description was an afterthought, wouldn't you say?
The more you look into this, the more it stinks, stinks, stinks. Just how much money was Julie Doolittle getting from Wilkes, Buckham, and Abramoff? And how much longer can Doolittle get away with not telling?