We at TPMmuckraker have accused Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) of many things, but rest assured we'll never accuse him of being unable to take full advantage of his office.
Today's Roll Call
had two gems on Doolittle, the man for whom Vice President Cheney is stumping today
, on how he's tried to make the most of (or off) being a Congressman. It seems that before Doolittle thought of raiding his campaign till for personal perks
, he tried to get the federal government to foot the bill.
Back in '91, only months after he'd first been elected, Doolittle started agitating
for better lawmaker care at taxpayer expense:
Doolittle presented a list of proposals to the House Administration Committee in 1991 that called for Members to receive a per-diem stipend of at least $92 per day; for âa corps of staff to assist the members, to perform routine tasks such as rides to airports, pickups, deliveries, etc;â for âan additional automobileâ for each Member to use in Washington, D.C.; and for the government to pay for the moving expenses of lawmakers and their families when they relocate to the nationâs capital....
The Californianâs 1991 list of proposals also called for House Administration to âauthorize making fundraising phone calls from the officeâ and to âallow use of campaign funds to reimburse government for incidental non-government use of equipment such as automobiles, telephones, fax machines, and copy machines, etc., to pay for lunches in House Restaurant, and to pay for equipment, furniture, and decorations in House offices.â
Those proposals were never implemented, and Doolittle apparently never sought to resuscitate them. But his 1991 effort to garner a daily stipend for Members was only his first try on that issue.
In 1999, Doolittle tried again - and failed - to round up support from his colleagues for a per-diem plan. In that case he teamed up with then-House Administration Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) to push for giving Members $125 or $150 per day tax-free to cover living expenses. If the program had been in place in 1998, it would have meant essentially a $15,000 to $18,000 raise for lawmakers.
Doolittle and a handful of colleagues, including Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), made another effort in 2001 to initiate a per diem, this time advocating $165 for every day the House was in session. Once again, the plan was scuttled by House leaders from both parties worried about the public relations fallout from such a move.
So Doolittle never won his perks. But, fortunately for him, no legislation needs to be passed for him to raid his campaign fund. It paid for a babysitter
, a nice little salary for his wife
by way of a 15% cut of contributions, and some leftover for his aides. Roll Call
today that "[Doolittle's] two top aides, and the spouse of one of them, collectively took in more than $300,000 over five years this decade in consulting fees from Doolittleâs re-election campaign committee and his leadership political action committee."
As we reported
back in April, one of those aides has continued to reap the benefits of Doolittle's office even after having left, via another fundraising consulting arrangement. It's the gift that keeps on giving.