Wednesday, April 19, 2006
As David Whitney reports in the Sacramento Bee, the commission Congressman John Doolittle pays his wife for fundraising for Doolittle's political committees violates the ethical code of a national association of professional fundraisers.
Doolittle's wife Julie started fundraising for her husband several years ago. Her business, Sierra Dominion Financial Services, currently has only two clients: Doolittle and Doolittle's PAC. In the past, Sierra Dominion also worked for convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff on one of his side projects.
John pays Julie 15% of every contributions she raises for John. (I am dropping the honorifics here, because this is little more than a husband receiving through his wife a kickback of 15% for every campaign contribution he receives.) So, if a crooked donor wanted to put money directly into Doolittle's pocket to gain influence with Doolittle the congressman, he could. Just make a campaign contribution.
One Doolittle donor, Brent Wilkes -- one of the guys former congressman Duke Cunningham says bribed him -- arranged for at least $118,000 in campaign contributions to Doolittle. Julie D's 15% means the Doolittles' bank account took in about $18k from a guy who's in the business of bribing members of Congress.
It's bad enough that members of Congress can take $4k an election from wealthy interests, not to mention another $5k a year for their leadership PACs, not to mention a chunk of whatever support the party throws their way come election time -- but for a sitting member of Congress to personally benefit financially from campaign contributions stinks of outright corruption of that member, as opposed to larger worries about a corrupt system.