Is Rep. John Doolittle's (R-CA) free ride in the Cunningham-Wade-Wilkes scandal coming to an end? I think it might be.
There are a slew of members of Congress that Brent Wilkes (the ur-Cunningham briber) had his hooks firmly implanted in. In each case, however, the key is finding the nexus of personal enrichment. In other words, there are thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. But were there personal pay-offs -- direct or indirect. That question got answered in spades with Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who had gifts, houses, boats, personal checks and a bunch of other stuff.
Well, this piece in the San Diego Union Tribune today gets us close to Cunningham territory.
A number of members of Congress have spouses on the payroll. But the Doolittles, well ... they did a lot. Julie Doolittle had a political consultancy and she worked on commission raising money for Doolittle's campaign and political action committee.
Now, let's take out the ethico-criminal magnifying glass and look closely at what that means. As the article, makes clear, Julie had no fundraising experience prior to starting her consultancy. She also didn't seem to do any actual fundraising. What this meant was that every time someone gave Doolittle money, Julie and John personally got a 15% taste of the cash.
So, for instance, the Wilkes crew gave Doolittle's campaigns $118,000. And according to the Union-Tribune's investigation, the Doolittle's got at least $14,400 of that personally.
Now, you might say, if Julie Doolittle was a professional fundraiser, and why should she be barred from working for her husband's campaigns. But then Julie Doolittle wasn't a fundraiser.
Julie Doolittle's Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, launched in March 2001, right after Doolittle got his seat on the Appropriations Committee. In other words, right after he got in a position to hand out federal contracts in a big way. SDFS has no phone number, no website and no employees except for Julie Doolittle. Prior to opening the firm she seems to have had no experience doing fundraising.
But what of her other clients, you ask?
The Union-Tribune found three. What were they?
Well, one was Greenberg-Traurig, Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm. The second was Signatures, Jack Abramoff's restaurant. The third was the Korea-US Exchange Council, a front group run by erstwhile Abramoff associate Ed Buckham, Tom DeLay's former Chief of Staff and head of Alexander Strategy Group, which closed down recently so the principals can focus on their legal defenses.
So Julie Doolittle's 'fundraising consultancy' drew a cut for the Doolittles for every dollar of campaign money she claimed credit for raising. Her other clients were either Jack Abramoff or front groups related to Jack Abramoff.
This seem fishy to you?
Here's the question. What was the total income Julie Doolittle was making in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005?