Monday, December 26, 2005

Doolittle, Delay, Abramoff - Family Ties

As noted below, interest in California Congressman John Doolittle's ties to Jack Abramoff is beginning to shine the light on some very interesting fund raising practices and associations of the powerful Northern California (CA-4) representative.

One of the central issues under investigation is the relationship of the company owned by Congressman Doolittle's wife and several shady operations that fall under the Abramoff/Delay umbrella. Julie Doolittle is the president of Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, a company that does fundraising for her husband's powerful Superior California Federal Leadership Fund, a political action committee (PAC).

The Sacramento Bee points out that the relationship between Mrs. Doolittle's business and her husband's fund raising has been highly beneficial to their joint income.

"A business operated by the wife of Rep. John Doolittle has pumped more than $136,000 into the family's finances over the last three years from commissions on fundraising for the Roseville Republican's federal political action committee.

Julie Doolittle's company has been paid commissions amounting to about 15 percent of the $905,000 the congressman's PAC has received in contributions over the last three years, a figure the congressman's office did not dispute. At that rate, more than $10,000 of her company's earnings would have come from a handful of large contributors linked to ongoing corruption investigations."

Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions' records were subpoenaed by the federal grand jury looking into Abramoff's dealings. Company officials will not disclose any of the company's other clients, but based on the grand jury activity, Julie Doolittle's business as a fund raiser for Abramoff's Capital Athletic Foundation is one of the areas of interest upon which prosecutors are focusing. The Washington Post detailed this connection last month.

"Abramoff's connections to Doolittle are also of interest to investigators, sources said. Doolittle's former chief of staff, Kevin A. Ring, went to work with Abramoff. Doolittle's wife, Julie, owned a consulting firm that was hired by Abramoff and his firm, Greenberg Traurig, to do fundraising for a charity he founded. Two sources close to the investigation said that Ring, while working for Abramoff, was an intermediary in the hiring of Julie Doolittle's firm, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc., which last year received a subpoena from the grand jury investigating Abramoff.

Julie Doolittle's attorney, William L. Stauffer Jr., said Sierra Dominion Financial was hired by Greenberg Traurig to provide "event planning, marketing and related services, as requested by Mr. Abramoff" for Abramoff's Capital Athletic Foundation and his Signatures restaurant. Sierra Dominion received a monthly retainer from Greenberg Traurig from January 2003 until February 2004, at a rate similar to that paid by other Sierra Dominion clients, Stauffer said.

Abramoff frequently used the athletic foundation as a pass-through organization to run lobbying efforts and to pay for expenses, records show."

Another of Julie Doolittle's clients has emerged as a result of the Abramoff investigations, the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council.

"... created by South Korean industrialist Kim Seung-youn for which Sierra Dominion provides bookkeeping services. In recent years, the group has flown nearly a dozen Democratic and Republican House members to South Korea, John Doolittle among them.

The council was set up with the help of former staffers to Tom DeLay, the Texas Republican who was then the House majority leader and for whom Doolittle has been a loyal lieutenant."

The Washington Post brought this all expenses paid Korean trip taken by Congressman Delay to light in March.

"Justice Department documents show that the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council, a business- financed entity created with help from a lobbying firm headed by DeLay's former chief of staff, registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act on Aug. 22, 2001. DeLay; his wife, Christine; and two other Republican lawmakers departed on a trip financed by the group on Aug. 25 of that year.

...It spent at least $106,921 to finance the three-day trip in 2001 from Washington to Seoul by the Republicans, which DeLay (Tex.) and accompanying staff assistants described at the time as having an "educational" purpose."

So here is what the public record shows. A business run by Congressman John Doolittle's wife has three known clients:

1. Her husbands political action committee, for which her company provides fund raising services. Estimated take $136,000 in the last 3 years.

2. Fund raising and event planning for Jack Abramoff's money laundering Capital Athletic Foundation. Estimate take - unknown - paid on a retainer basis.

3. Bookkeeping services for a registered foreign agent, the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council, an organization designed by former Delay staffers and funded entirely by wealthy South Korean industrialist Kim Seung-youn.

It would be interesting to find out who the rest of Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions clients are? And, of equal importance would be the question of how much these clients enriched the family bank account of Congressman John Doolittle.