WASHINGTON - For more than a year, Rep. John Doolittle's connections with Jack Abramoff, a one-time high-flying Washington lobbyist, have made occasional news.
A company run by Doolittle's wife did work for Abramoff, and the grand jury investigating his activities served her with a subpoena. Doolittle belatedly reported using Abramoff's skybox for a fundraiser. A former Doolittle staffer had joined Abramoff's lobbying team. And records show Abramoff, his associates and their clients, primarily Indian tribes, have contributed at least $140,000 to the Roseville Republican's campaigns and political action committees since 1999.[...]
Doolittle's office has described Abramoff as a "close friend" of the congressman. Even if that relationship does not draw Doolittle directly into the Abramoff investigation, it has become volatile fodder for the 2006 Republican primary, in which he is being challenged by Auburn City Councilman Mike Holmes.
"Representative Doolittle presents himself as a person of high moral values," Holmes said Tuesday. "This relationship with Abramoff and the fact that he takes money from casinos when he is against casino gambling makes one wonder what his ethics really are."
The connections between Doolittle and Abramoff, who already is under indictment in a separate bank-fraud investigation, are extensive.
Doolittle's wife, Julie, did fundraising work for Abramoff between August 2002 and March 2003. Her records were subpoenaed last year by the Abramoff grand jury.
A former Doolittle staffer, Kevin Ring, later joined Abramoff's lobbying shop and recently cited the Fifth Amendment in declining to answer questions before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee about his activities.
In the past five years, Abramoff, Ring and their clients and associates have put $140,000 into Doolittle's campaign and leadership political action committee coffers, records show.
Abramoff personally contributed $4,000 to Doolittle's re-election committee, while a handful of associates, including Ring, gave another $9,000.