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The Nation

California congressman's aides subpoenaed in inquiry

Federal investigators are looking into Republican Rep. John T. Doolittle's ties to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

September 05, 2007|Richard Simon | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Three aides to Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Roseville) have been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury this week in an investigation into the ties the congressman and his wife had to former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Doolittle's chief of staff, Ron Rogers, and Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Blankenburg received subpoenas from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, it was announced Tuesday in the House, as required by the chamber's rules. A third member of Doolittle's staff has been subpoenaed, but the aide's name has yet to be made public.

The congressman expressed hope that the probe was coming to an end, saying that the Justice Department had failed to uncover any wrongdoing on his part.

"Three years seems like more than adequate time to determine the facts," Doolittle said in a statement. "I look forward to the truth finally being established and hope that we may have a resolution soon."

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

The subpoenas come at a difficult time for the nine-term congressman, who narrowly won reelection last fall after coming under attack for his ties to Abramoff, a prominent Republican lobbyist who pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and other charges.

In the 2008 GOP primary, Doolittle already has drawn two opponents: Auburn City Councilman Mike Holmes, who ran against Doolittle last year, and security consultant Eric Egland. He faces a possible third: state Assemblyman Ted Gaines (R-Roseville), who is considering entering the race.

The congressman's troubles add to the woes of his party, which cannot seem to get out from under the ethics cloud that contributed to its losses in the last election.

Doolittle gave up his seat on the House Appropriations Committee earlier this year after the FBI searched his and his wife's Virginia home. Records of the work that Julie Doolittle did for Abramoff have been subpoenaed. Her company, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc., received about $67,000 from Abramoff's firm from 2002 to 2004.

Doolittle has called Abramoff a friend, accepted campaign money from him and used his skybox at a Washington sports arena. Abramoff is now in federal prison and has been cooperating with the FBI investigation.

In his statement, Doolittle noted that despite the investigation, he had continued to secure funds for projects in his district. The two subpoenaed staffers named Tuesday joined his staff after the federal investigation began, Doolittle said.

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richard.simon@latimes.com

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