Sunday, April 9, 2006

Doolittle's empire is crumbling...but will it be enough?

On the heels of the Hammer's resignation and all the other signs leading one to believe Doolittle may be next, there's still a question lingering: we will be able to seize the opportunity? Does an opportunity for change really exist? I, along with many others, will be watching the results of this week's special election in CA's district 50 closely.

First, a slew of letters to the editor in yesterday's Sac Bee in response to an opinion piece written in defense of John Doolittle by State Assemblyman (major player in the Doolittle machinery) Tim Leslie. Leslie is being termed out of his seat and some say he is the pick to replace Doolittle when the indictment comes down. Won't post all the great letters but here are a few excerpted highlights:

Leslie writes how in 1980, Doolittle, a hard worker doing what he thought to be right, won an election that some saw as a big upset in California political history. Then Leslie goes on to write that, disturbing to him is how important facts are often left out concerning Doolittle.

Interesting. I've been following California politics since Gov. Pat Brown, and the important facts that Leslie left out was that Doolittle led the most negative and dishonest campaign in 1980 of anyone running in this state. He knew that if he threw enough mud, some would stick. "With a little digging" people will see Doolittle for what he is, a hypocrite and Leslie as someone with a selective memory.

- Don Brown, Sacramento

As a lifelong Republican, I was shocked to learn Rep. John Doolittle pays his wife out of money he collects for running his re-election campaign and his political action committee. Her Virginia-based company, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, has received over $163,000 since November 2002.

This is wrong. It's a sleazy way to circumvent our campaign laws. This smells like corruption, and it is not the way I want my representative in Washington to behave.

- Jerol K. Burns, Auburn

Tim Leslie demonstrated the sort of blind loyalty that has become a hallmark of the Republican Party, especially in the Bush administration.

- Paul Raveling, El Dorado Hills

Assemblyman Tim Leslie's comments on the "Questionable practices" editorial reveal a depressing ethical obtuseness.

- Jeff Fine, Sacramento

Assemblyman Tim Leslie's defense of Rep. John Doolittle is full of misleading statements and factual omissions.

- Jeff Ball, Sacramento

Next, we have an article in today's Sac Bee that looks at Doolittle's four challengers and what Delay's resignation may mean for Doolittle's race. Found this amusing:

Doolittle also has ratcheted up his "the liberals are coming" fundraising machinery even as the campaign's public face is one of supreme confidence.

"I don't think he is worried about this race," Robinson said. "He's got a tremendous amount of support - more support in this election than ever before."

Doolittle declined to be interviewed for this story. Robinson said he was too busy on Capitol Hill.

We end with today's Sac Bee editorial in which it is asserted that we have now entered a post-Tom DeLay era:

The Doolittle camp claims that the Federal Election Commission "put its official stamp of approval on such arrangements" in a 2001 advisory opinion. Not true. The FEC ruling referred only to "salary payments," not commissions, and made it clear that a family member must have the qualifications of a bona fide professional. Most important, the contract must conform to "standard industry practice" between paid consultants and candidate committees. That is the crux of the matter.

Does Julie Doolittle have fundraising experience and expertise? Where is the record that she is doing or has done fundraising for other political campaigns? We don't see it. She set up her business, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, just two months after her husband won a seat on the Appropriations Committee.

Does her 15 percent commission conform to standard industry practice? In 2004, Doolittle's opponent raised only $2,300 and won only 35 percent of the vote. For that kind of race, a paid fundraiser is hardly necessary. Yet Doolittle amassed more than $1 million in contributions. Were the Doolittles driving up contributions to benefit the family income more than to thwart an underfinanced opponent?


Campaign contributions are supposed to help candidates win elections, not line their pockets. In this post-Tom DeLay era, Doolittle needs to show ethical leadership by example and end this unacceptable practice.

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