Doolittle Epitomizes the Rot in the System–But Here's a Way to Clean it Up

We’ve been chronicling the ethical travails of Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) on our Watchdog Blog since its inception, as you can see here. Doolittle is under increasing media scrutiny, especially in California, for his close ties to disgraced former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s “business” associates and his close friendship with admitted-felon Jack Abramoff. In fact, there have been so many reports of Doolittle’s questionable dealings that we’ve decided to add him to our Ethics Hall of Shame. Check back tomorrow when he makes his inauspicious debut.

There is some good that could come out of the mess with Doolittle, Abramoff and all their friends in hot water here in Washington: it looks like Congress is moving towards passing ethics reform legislation this year. You Californians, especially, should join in our National Call-Out Corruption Dayscheduled for tomorrow, because Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is on the Senate committee that will be looking at such legislation this week.

But, back to Doolittle: Shortly before announcing his bid for re-election this week, Rep. Doolittle sat down with staffers at The Auburn Journal for an in-depth interview on his ties to Abramoff, Cunningham and others.

After a round of softball questions and wilted rebuttals, staffers at the Auburn Journal got straight to the point:

How much money did you receive directly from Abramoff and through his other sources?

Doolittle’s answer was, in essence, “I don’t know.” When asked “How come?” Doolittle replied, “Because it is really of no concern to me…All I know is that I try to raise as much money as possible.” Wow. Now that’s chutzpah.

Why is Doolittle so brazen in his apathy over lobbyist-directed campaign contributions? For starters, the practice of accepting lobbyist contributions is completely legal. Lobbyists can butter-up members of Congress with generous, out-of-pocket donations without any fear of retribution – and have been doing so for years. The result is a Congress beholden to special interests, not the public interest. While Public Citizen’s Craig Holman Ph. D. and others are working hard to change the rules governing lobbyist contributions, activists can help by participating in our National Call-Out Corruption Day tomorrow, February 28th.

-Conor Kenny