Doolittle defends votes against congressional ethics bills |

Doolittle defends votes against congressional ethics bills

Erica Werner

WASHINGTON (AP) – GOP Rep. John Doolittle said Thursday that even if he weren’t under federal investigation, he would have opposed legislation this week providing for House ethics probes of indicted lawmakers.

Doolittle, R-Rocklin, who is caught up in the influence-peddling scandal surrounding jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has come under Democratic criticism for voting “no” on the two bills this week.

The measures were proposed on Tuesday in response to the indictment of Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson of Louisiana on federal bribery charges.

Doolittle was among just 10 lawmakers in the 435-member House to oppose a Democratic-written bill directing the House Ethics Committee to respond to the indictment of any House member by empaneling an investigative committee within 30 days.

He was among 26 voting “no” on a Republican-written measure directing the ethics committee to report on whether the charges against Jefferson merit his expulsion.

“I honestly don’t believe I would have voted any differently whether or not I was in the situation that I’m in,” Doolittle told reporters on a telephone conference call he holds each week during session.

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“This is one of the cornerstones of our American Republic, and that is that a person is innocent unless proven guilty,” he said.

“If you start trying to have a parallel investigation you will potentially cause all kinds of problems for the criminal investigation,” Doolittle added, saying congressional intervention while a criminal case was going forward could jeopardize the rights of the defendants and the prosecution.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is targeting Doolittle for defeat next year, has derided him for that stance, contending that he “must live in a parallel universe where nothing is his fault and Congress shouldn’t do its job.”

“Well, I mean, they’re going to say that,” Doolittle said.

Doolittle also told reporters that an annual fundraiser he held last week in Folsom was extremely successful and raised about $100,000 despite recent talk among some Republicans in his district that the party should have a different nominee next year.