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Doolittle's reforms start with his wife

January 13, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Roseville) said Friday that he would no longer employ his wife as his campaign fundraiser, a practice that gave his household a 15% cut of all donations.

Doolittle, who has drawn scrutiny for that and his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, said he would hire an outside fundraiser. He made the announcement in an opinion piece distributed to newspapers in his Northern California district, noting his tough reelection battle.

"After winning my election with less than 50% of the vote, I recognize that change is needed for me to rebuild the trust and support of my constituents," wrote Doolittle, a conservative in his ninth term who had easily won reelection in the past.

The change was one of 10 steps Doolittle pledged to take after a campaign clouded by questions about his wife's fundraising and his connections to Abramoff, who in January 2006 pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud and is serving 70 months in prison.

Doolittle also promised to spend more time in his district, hold "listening sessions," establish district satellite offices, make himself more available to the media and work more with Democrats.

Doolittle's wife, Julia, received a fundraising retainer from Abramoff from 2002 to 2004, and her records were subpoenaed in 2004 in the Justice Department's investigation of the lobbyist. The lawmaker denies wrongdoing.

Julia Doolittle did much of her husband's fundraising, and he paid her 15% of every donation she brought in, instead of a flat fee. She raised more than $100,000 for his 2006 campaign, federal records show.

Though his district is solidly Republican, Doolittle's victory was narrow over Democrat Charles Brown in November.

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