March 19, 2006

The Goods

TPM keeps a careful eye out for these things so I don't have to. Josh links to a San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE article that has the goods on one John T. Doolittle, official white whale of Craigorian Chant. To sum up:

A number of members of Congress have spouses on the payroll. But the Doolittles, well ... they did a lot. Julie Doolittle had a political consultancy and she worked on commission raising money for Doolittle's campaign and political action committee.

Now, let's take out the ethico-criminal magnifying glass and look closely at what that means. As the article, makes clear, Julie had no fundraising experience prior to starting her consultancy. She also didn't seem to do any actual fundraising. What this meant was that every time someone gave Doolittle money, Julie and John personally got a 15% taste of the cash.

So, for instance, the Wilkes crew gave Doolittle's campaigns $118,000. And according to the Union-Tribune's investigation, the Doolittle's got at least $14,400 of that personally.

Now, you might say, if Julie Doolittle was a professional fundraiser, and why should she be barred from working for her husband's campaigns. But then Julie Doolittle wasn't a fundraiser.

Julie Doolittle's Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, launched in March 2001, right after Doolittle got his seat on the Appropriations Committee. In other words, right after he got in a position to hand out federal contracts in a big way. SDFS has no phone number, no website and no employees except for Julie Doolittle. Prior to opening the firm she seems to have had no experience doing fundraising.

Now one of the things that offen gets lost in the campaign fiance debate is that politicians do not personally benefit from the money they raise from donors. That money goes into a campaign account and is just spent on campaign activities. But the Doolittles seem to have created an arrangement so that a portion of what they raise goes into their personal account. All married couples I know have joint bank accounts. This arrangement with Doolittle's wife seems to exist only to give the family a personal cut of their campaign cash. This arrangement turns money given as political support into personal bribes. It stinks.

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