Guest view: Julie Doolittle — An innocent pawn |

Guest view: Julie Doolittle — An innocent pawn

Jerome Waldie

Congressman John Doolittle, during a recent debate with his Democrat opponent, retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, Charlie Brown, while seeking to avoid a question concerning the ongoing justice department investigation of his wife’s involvement with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, angrily responded, “They want to drag my poor wife into this.” No, congressman, they were interested in your conduct, not your good wife’s, though, unfortunately, your political actions involved her.

I have watched Mrs. Doolittle over the many years of her husband’s political career. And I have been impressed with her grace and devotion to her life partner. And I do feel sorry for Julie Doolittle for having been politically entangled by her husband in his ongoing scandals. I am convinced she would not have knowingly committed an improper act without having been led into that mess by her powerful husband.

Though Mrs. Doolittle has been involved in an ethically challenged scheme of her husband’s to siphon off 15 percent of every political contribution the congressman receives, that practice is legal if not pleasing, and the impetus for that act was Mr. Doolittle.

But her employment at the request of her husband, the congressman, by the convicted lobbyist and close friend of her husband, Jack Abramoff, raised considerable questions of legality involving the exchange of favors between Mr. Doolittle and Mr. Abramoff. That relationship between the lobbyist and her husband is what prompted the Department of Justice to subpoena the financial records of Julia Doolittle dealing with Abramoff.

“They want to drag my poor wife into this,” leads one to wonder who “they” might be. A good guess would be that “they” makes reference to the Department of Justice and the courts that approved the issuance of subpoenas to fathom what was occurring between Doolittle and Abramoff. Issuing the subpoenas in the congressman’s mind, was apparently “dragging his poor wife into this.” Not so, John, those subpoenas were targeting you, not your wife. And the one who dragged her into this was not the Justice Department, but was you, sir.

“They want to drag my poor wife into this.” “This”, as used by the congressman, makes reference to the series of unsavory events that resulted in the Justice Department launching a widespread investigation of corruption in the House of Representatives involving those congressmen connected with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff, himself, has pleaded guilty to felonies involving his relations with several Republican congressmen to gain financial benefits for his clients. He has been cooperating with the Justice Department in its investigation of other congressmen, including, reports suggest, our congressman.

We don’t know all that has transpired yet. The investigation is continuing. But we do know that Congressman Doolittle has received tens of thousands of dollars directly from Mr. Abramoff, and tens of thousands more from his Indian Casino and Mariannas sweatshop clients.

And we know that Mr. Doolittle responded to Mr. Abramoff’s requests for political favors involving his Indian casino clients as well as his Mariannas sweatshop operators. Most importantly, not one of those beneficiaries of Mr. Doolittle’s political favors was a constituent of his.

Julie Doolittle seems to have been an innocent pawn in the scheming machinations of her husband. Her involvement in his scandal is a sad testament to the recklessness of Mr. Doolittle as he sought political power and monetary contributions. But sadly, Mrs. Doolittle, thanks to her husband’s irresponsible conduct, has also believed it necessary to hire her own defense attorney, separate from her husband’s attorney, to represent her interests in this unresolved, shameful episode.

Congressman Doolittle knows that he confronts serious allegations of wrongdoing. Within days of learning of Abramoff’s guilty plea and his agreement to cooperate with the Department of Justice in pursuing congressional wrongdoing, he immediately sought the services of a prominent Washington D.C. criminal attorney to defend him in his perilous situation.

That was a wise move on his part. The future looks troublesome for our congressman and the services of a prominent, skilled, criminal defense attorney really makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense, is that he is seeking re-election.

– Jerome R. Waldie is a former U.S. Congressman and a Placerville resident.

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