Friday, September 07, 2007
A Grand Jury is zeroing in on Congressman John Doolittle regarding his ties to convicted Republican Lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Doolittle is one of the members of Congress whom Abramoff is providing information on, as part of his ongoing cooperation with authorities to name names.
Doolittle is part of an ever growing list of Republican members of Congress, lobbyists, and aides who have fallen into legal and/or ethical trouble.
(I think I will try to compile a list of all of them if I find enough time)
Report below From the International Herald Tribune
WASHINGTON D.C.- A grand jury has subpoenaed two top aides of a Republican lawmaker to testify in a federal probe of ties among the congressman, his wife and jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The subpoenas from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia were issued to Rep. John Doolittle's chief of staff, Ron Rogers, and deputy staff chief, Dan Blankenburg. They were announced on the House of Representatives floor as Congress returned from its August recess Tuesday after the aides informed House leaders about the subpoenas, as required under House rules.
In identical letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rogers and Blankenburg said they would consult with House lawyers before determining how to respond.
The two aides did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Doolittle's spokesman, Gordon Hinkle, had no immediate comment.
A grand jury is a special panel convened to determine whether the government has sufficient evidence to bring charges against a specific defendant. In federal grand juries and those of most states, witnesses testify without attorneys.
FBI agents raided Doolittle's home in a Washington suburb in April looking for information about his wife's fundraising business that did work for Abramoff.
Abramoff is a star witness in a sweeping investigation of influence pedaling abuses by lobbyists who deal with members of Congress and their staffs. Once a top lobbyist in Washington, Abramoff is serving prison time in an unrelated case from Florida and is awaiting sentencing in a Washington corruption case.
Doolittle, a nine-term incumbent, has denied wrongdoing but subsequently stepped down from his post on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He has numerous ties to Abramoff, whom he considers a good friend, including accepting campaign cash from the lobbyist and intervening on behalf of American Indian tribes who were clients of Abramoff.
Abramoff's lobbying firm paid Julie Doolittle's Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc., a near-monthly $5,000 retainer from September 2002 to February 2004, mostly to work on a fundraiser that was canceled in March 2003.
Doolittle has said he believes investigators are trying to determine whether Julie Doolittle did real work in exchange for the payments, which he insists she did.
Doolittle is the only sitting member of Congress known to be under active investigation in the Abramoff investigation, which has netted a dozen convictions from Bush administration and congressional aides, including a guilty plea from now imprisoned former Rep. Bob Ney, a Republican. A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Pressure on Doolittle has intensified since the FBI raid on his home, and he is facing increasing Republican opposition in his conservative Northern California district. Several locally known Republicans are considering running against him in the party's primary election next year.