Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Doolittle Kick Back Arrangement: Outrageous!

Today's editorial in the Sacramento Bee, "Questionable Practices: Doolittle's campaign money headed home":

First elected in 1990, Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville, announced on Jan. 5, 2001, that he had won a coveted seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Not long after, things changed for the Doolittle family.

On March 22, 2001, the congressman's wife set up a business - Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions in Virginia. By November 2002, Julie Doolittle's firm was receiving consulting fees and by September 2003 she began receiving a 15 percent commission for contributions to her husband's political action committee, the Superior California Federal Leadership Fund. That means since 2002, the Doolittle household has received a personal cut on money from his political fundraising.


This arrangement raises obvious questions that Doolittle must answer for his constituents. How is his wife's taking a 15 percent cut of political contributions any different from the congressman himself saying he will take a 15 percent cut? How is this different from donors, instead of writing out a $1,000 check to the campaign, writing out two checks - an $850 check to the campaign and a $150 check to the Doolittles?


"A family member drawing a campaign salary is nearly always controversial - it just doesn't look good. Campaign funds aren't supposed to be used for personal use or to enrich the candidate," says Massie Ritsch, communications director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.


We don't pretend to know whether the Doolittle arrangement is legal. It certainly strikes us as outrageous. If it is not illegal, it should be. Members of Congress, their spouses and children should not benefit financially from money given to their campaigns.

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