The long awaited indictment yesterday of Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring contains over 100 mentions of a not-so-mysterious "Representative 5," California Republican Congressman John Doolittle, a long-known crony of Abramoff.
The indictment adds additional information to Doolittle's already thick record with Abramoff. According to the indictment, Ring expensed at least one suite for a sports event, eight concert tickets (including tickets for Dixie Chicks and Faith Hill), and five meals totaling more than $2000 for Doolittle. For Doolittle's staff and his legislative director in particular, Ring bought 29 sports tickets, four concert tickets, nine meals, and one gift from Macy's.
But Ring and Abramoff were well accommodated in return. As the indictment describes, Doolittle proved himself "a good soldier" by chairing a hearing on the Puerto Rico statehood issue for an Abramoff client and held up his opposition to an anti-gambling bill among other favors.
And Doolittle's staff was just as helpful. Doolittle's communications director helped Ring out with tax legislation to "earn [his] Sigs Sushi ;)," and his legislative director was so "tenacious on the appropriations front" that he earned an esteemed compliment from Ring in an email: "You the man."
It's been awhile since Doolittle and his wife Julie have come up, but page after page of gifts and favors in the indictment bring the happy couple back into the muck spotlight.
Julie Doolittle's involvement began when her business records were subpoenaed in 2004 after her "consulting company," Sierra Dominion, was hired by Abramoff. A few years later, in 2007, the FBI raided the Doolittle's home for additional evidence related to their investigation of Abramoff. The same day the raid occurred -- man of the hour, Kevin Ring, a Doolittle staffer prior to his work at Abramoff's Greenberg Taurig -- resigned from his subsequent job at a different lobbying firm.
Meanwhile, Doolittle was having his own problems. After the FBI raid became public, six of his aides were contacted by the feds and others testified before the grand jury related to the investigation.
Together, John paid Julie 15% of the takings from his PAC -- "payment" for money she reportedly raised herself. He also arranged for her hiring by Abramoff, requesting that she be given work, but not "too much," according to an email obtained in Ring's indictment. "Since she has responsibilities at home as a mother and wife." According to the indictment, Abramoff obliged giving Julie a $5000 a month job, as an events planner. As it turned out, all the events that she planned were canceled - but that didn't stop her from getting paid. In the end, Julie was paid $96,000 between 2002 and 2004 by Abramoff's firm.
Despite Republicans clamoring for his resignation, and the downfall of Abramoff and all those around him, Doolittle stood his ground, and until the last moment, maintained he we would run for reelection for his seat in Congress. But in January, he and Julie issued a joint statement, claiming that John would retire after this year, because they were "ready for a change."
Now that Ring pleaded not guilty to ten counts of public corruption, the big player in his indictment -- Representative 5 -- seems like the next tree to fall in the rotting Abramoff forest.
And if legal defense funds are any indication, Doolittle is playing with the big boys. In the last quarter alone he racked up $152,852 in attorney fees.
It appears that they're earning their keep. Doolittle's attorneys released a statement saying that "it is clear that portions of the Kevin Ring indictment were designed to make gratuitous references to the Congressman and his wife. This appears to have been done to titillate the public, with the foreseeable and therefore intended consequence of attempting to embarrass and pressure the Congressman."