- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rep. John T. Doolittle, whose house was searched by the FBI as part of an influence-peddling investigation, said yesterday he will step down temporarily from the House Appropriations Committee.

The announcement by the nine-term California Republican came one day after the disclosure that agents had raided his home in Oakton. In the search last Friday, the FBI had a warrant for information connected with a fundraising business run by Mr. Doolittle’s wife, Julie. The business had done work for convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

“I understand how the most recent circumstances may lead some to question my tenure on the Appropriations Committee,” Mr. Doolittle wrote House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.

“Therefore, I feel it may be in the best interest of the House that I take a temporary leave with seniority from this committee until this matter can be resolved,” he wrote.

Mr. Doolittle’s ties to Abramoff have come under scrutiny in the corruption investigation that has sent one former Republican congressman, Bob Ney of Ohio, to prison on a guilty plea to charges of conspiracy and making false statements.

Congressional Republicans have worked to repair their party’s image in the wake of November’s election losses, which followed Democratic criticism of a “culture of corruption” among Republicans.

“John recognizes that if we are to succeed in restoring trust between the American people and their elected leaders, this action is necessary, and I commend him for having the courage to do the right thing,” Mr. Boehner said.

Last week’s search took place on the same day that Kevin Ring, a former Doolittle aide who went on to work for Abramoff, resigned from a law firm without explanation.

Mr. Doolittle called Abramoff a friend, and the two had numerous connections. Mr. Doolittle accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash from Abramoff and interceded on behalf of the lobbyist’s American Indian clients.

Mrs. Doolittle’s company, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc., was paid a near-monthly retainer by Abramoff’s firm Greenberg Traurig from September 2002 to February 2004. She was hired to work on a March 2003 fundraiser at the International Spy Museum in the District for an Abramoff outfit called the Capital Athletic Foundation, but the event was canceled after the invasion of Iraq.

Abramoff is cooperating with the government after pleading guilty in January 2006 to conspiracy, mail fraud and other charges, admitting he bilked his Indian tribe clients out of tens of millions of dollars.

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