Saturday, March 25, 2006

Deep Do Do For Doolittle

The Sacramento Bee takes Representative John Doolittle (CA-4) to task in an editorial this morning. The Bee's editorial staff has finally decided that it might be time to question Doolittle's extraordinary financial arrangement with his wife. An arrangement that efficiently moves 15% of all campaign and political action committee contributions directly into the Doolittle family bank account.

With this scheme the Doolittles have hopelessly blurred the distinction between campaign money and personal money. This arrangement raises obvious questions that Doolittle must answer for his constituents. How is his wife's taking a 15 percent cut of political contributions any different from the congressman himself saying he will take a 15 percent cut? How is this different from donors, instead of writing out a $1,000 check to the campaign, writing out two checks - an $850 check to the campaign and a $150 check to the Doolittles?

The Bee notes that the Doolittle's contribution skimming scam was working so well for his political action committee that last year they expanded it to cover contributions to his personal campaign accounts.

The congressman expanded the deal last summer. Beginning in June 2005, Julie Doolittle's Sierra company began to receive a 15 percent commission for contributions to her husband's re-election committee, the John T. Doolittle for Congress Committee. That is potentially a lot more money for the Doolittle household. The re-election committee has always received more contributions than the leadership PAC. In the 2004 election cycle, for example, that committee brought in more than $900,000 in contributions. A 15 percent commission would be $135,000.

If this isn't an invitation to bribery, I don't know what else to call it. It provides contributors a direct link to a quid pro quo arrangement with Doolittle. The money moves effortlessly into Doolittle's bank account. The appropriate letter gets written. The appropriate earmark is attached to the appropriate bill.

Hat tip to nightswimming for reading the Bee with the morning coffee.