From the Washington Post:
The Justice Department's wide-ranging investigation of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has entered a highly active phase as prosecutors are beginning to move on evidence pointing to possible corruption in Congress and executive branch agencies, lawyers involved in the case said.And there's this from the LA Times:
Abramoff's connections to Doolittle are also of interest to investigators, sources said. Doolittle's former chief of staff, Kevin A. Ring, went to work with Abramoff. Doolittle's wife, Julie, owned a consulting firm that was hired by Abramoff and his firm, Greenberg Traurig, to do fundraising for a charity he founded. Two sources close to the investigation said that Ring, while working for Abramoff, was an intermediary in the hiring of Julie Doolittle's firm, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc., which last year received a subpoena from the grand jury investigating Abramoff.
Julie Doolittle's attorney, William L. Stauffer Jr., said Sierra Dominion Financial was hired by Greenberg Traurig to provide "event planning, marketing and related services, as requested by Mr. Abramoff" for Abramoff's Capital Athletic Foundation and his Signatures restaurant. Sierra Dominion received a monthly retainer from Greenberg Traurig from January 2003 until February 2004, at a rate similar to that paid by other Sierra Dominion clients, Stauffer said.
Abramoff frequently used the athletic foundation as a pass-through organization to run lobbying efforts and to pay for expenses, records show. Julie Doolittle was hired to put on a fundraiser for the foundation at the International Spy Museum, but the event was canceled because it had been scheduled to take place just at the Iraq war was commencing, Stauffer said.
"Sierra Dominion primarily performed public relations and other event planning services for the Spy Museum event," Stauffer said in an e-mail reply to questions. "This included responding to all individuals calling the Capital Athletic Foundation concerning the Spy Museum event, identifying (and contacting) possible attendees for the event, and assisting in fund raising strategy and letters."
Doolittle's office denied any connection between the firm's work and official acts.
"In no way did Sierra Dominion's business services work for Greenberg Traurig have any relationship to Congressman Doolittle's official duties as a member of the House of Representatives," said Doolittle spokeswoman Laura Blackmann.
"Congressman Doolittle has never received a subpoena regarding this matter, nor has he ever been contacted by the Justice Department to provide information or be questioned," she said.
WASHINGTON — His onetime friendship with super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff has come back to haunt Rep. John T. Doolittle of Northern California, a member of the House Republican leadership, as the Justice Department continues its probe into Abramoff's dealings with lawmakers.
Doolittle's name surfaced in the probe when the Washington Post reported late last year that the eight-term congressman from Roseville — a Mormon and staunch opponent of casino gambling — used Abramoff's luxury sports box in a Washington arena to host a fundraiser and then failed to report its value, as required by law.
Laura Blackann, a spokeswoman for Doolittle, denied that he had done anything wrong.
"Any suggestion that [Doolittle] may have had some improper involvement in matters recently disclosed about Mr. Abramoff and others comes as a complete surprise and is simply ridiculous," Blackann said in a statement. "Anyone who knows John Doolittle personally is well-aware of his character and high standard of ethics."
In an interview, Blackann said that the Justice Department had not contacted Doolittle or subpoenaed any documents from him.
It did, however, subpoena documents from Doolittle's wife, Julia Doolittle, who hosted a fundraising event for an Abramoff charity, the Capital Athletic Foundation.
A Senate investigation — separate from the Justice Department probe — has been looking into allegations that Abramoff and his business partner, Michael Scanlon, bilked tribal clients of money that sometimes was used to fund Abramoff's charitable interests through the Capital Athletic Foundation and other organizations.
Neither Julia Doolittle nor her attorney could be reached for comment Friday.
The lobbyists contributed heavily to lawmakers from both political parties, but particularly to powerful Republicans. Abramoff also hired former key Republican staffers — among them Kevin Ring, who worked on Doolittle's staff before joining Abramoff at the firm of Greenberg Traurig.
Ring was mentioned in testimony this month before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee by Fred Baggett, a senior manager of Greenberg Traurig. Baggett told the panel that the firm fired Abramoff, Ring and two other lobbyists after an internal investigation found that Abramoff and the other lobbyists had violated the firm's rules in their dealings with the tribes.
Ring did not respond to e-mails and phone messages on Friday seeking comment.