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Doolittle aide appointed to state prison job

Samantha Young, Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO ” Rep. John Doolittle is losing a top California staffer, the latest aide to leave while the Republican congressman is under criminal investigation.

Gordon Hinkle, 34, was named deputy press secretary for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, according to a statement issued Wednesday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office.

“The decision to leave my current role was very difficult,” Hinkle said in a statement. “I take great pride in having worked for an honorable man that represents my conservative views, values and who has shown great confidence in me personally as a staffer.”



Hinkle has been Doolittle’s communications director and senior field representative since February. He was among a handful of aides who received subpoenas in September from a Washington grand jury investigating Doolittle for his ties to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He was asked to turn over documents but was not required to testify.

Doolittle’s former chief of staff, Richard Robinson, and his longtime scheduler, Alisha Perkins, resigned earlier this year. Perkins was subpoenaed for documents and testimony.



Hinkle leaves Doolittle’s district office as the nine-time conservative mounts what is expected to be his toughest re-election campaign.

The Roseville lawmaker represents a heavily Republican district in northeast California and had coasted in re-election campaigns until 2006, when Democrat Charlie Brown surprised him with a strong challenge in the general election.

Doolittle has seen his support erode steadily since then, as federal investigators scrutinize the relationship between the congressman, his wife, Julie, and Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud in 2006.

Before joining Doolittle’s office, Hinkle was a senior consultant to the California Assembly Republican caucus. He also worked as communications director for state Sen. Jim Battin of Palm Desert from 2001 to 2006.

Hinkle, who will be paid $87,132 a year at his new job, said he and his family intended to volunteer for the congressman in the coming months.

“””

Associated Press Writer Erica Werner in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.


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