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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Congressman Doolittle's Fundraising Violates Ethical Code

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.

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