New Evidence Links Abramoff, Doolittle

More evidence of less-than-savory ties between Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) and Jack Abramoff.

As The Sacramento Bee noted this morning, a newly released email shows that in 2000, Abramoff and Doolittle spoke about getting Doolittle’s wife, Julie, a job with a friend’s nonprofit.

What the paper didn’t reveal is that Abramoff had cut a similar deal for another favored contact: former DeLay aide Tony Rudy. Far from helping out a pal’s wife, Abramoff appears to have used the arrangements to funnel bribes to powerful men, like DeLay and Rudy. And Doolittle.

The e-mail, released as part of a Senate report yesterday, provides even further grounds for suspicion of the relationship between Abramoff and Doolittle.His wife, Julie, did ultimately go to work for Abramoff in August 2002, placing her in a group that the investigators on the Abramoff case call “The Wives Club” — the klatsch of wives who served as pass-throughs for payoffs to their husbands. Investigators subpoenaed the records for Julie Doolittle’s consulting company in 2004.

Another member of The Wives Club was Tony Rudy’s wife, Lisa. Tony Rudy pled guilty to one count of conspiracy on March 31st. As part of his plea, he admitted that his wife had accepted $50,000 in payments for a consultant position with Toward Tradition, run by Abramoff’s friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin. The position lasted from June of 2000 through February of 2001; she was mostly paid in $5,000 monthly installments. The money came from two of Abramoff’s clients. The payments were listed in Rudy’s plea among other perks that Abramoff showered on Rudy in exchange for his help while he worked on DeLay’s staff.

Abramoff was angling to get Doolittle’s wife hired during that same time period. On September 20, 2000, Abramoff’s associate Kevin Ring wrote Abramoff that Doolittle was “excited” about the possibility:

David [David Lopez, Doolittle’s chief of staff] told me that Doolittle (JTD) is very excited and appreciative about the Toward Tradition position for Julie. JTD knows of the group and would like to talk to you about it. Can you call him whenever you get a free moment – does not need to be today.

Ultimately, the arrangement didn’t work out for one reason or another. Doolittle’s spokesman says that “Julie never did any work for Toward Tradition, never was offered a job,” and there’s no proof otherwise.

But no worry. Abramoff and the Doolittles worked out another arrangement in the middle of 2002, when Julie Doolittle went to work for him planning a fundraiser for Abramoff’s sham nonprofit Capital Athletic Foundation. That arrangement went on for nearly two years, netting Julie Doolittle $66,000. It’s not clear what she was paid to do (since she was paid the bulk of that money after the fundraiser she was hired to plan), and her lawyer’s explanations for that have shifted.

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