Marry A GOP Politician, Get A Cut Of His Campaign Funds

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Donald Isler
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Marry A GOP Politician, Get A Cut Of His Campaign Funds

Post by Donald Isler » Sat Jun 17, 2006 12:34 am

More financial shenanigans from the Republicans, the party of "ethics."


New York Times
Published: June 16, 2006
The nation is fortunate that a sudden attempt to kill one of the hallowed anticorruption reforms from the Watergate scandal — the option of public financing in presidential elections — was smoked out in the House this week. The sponsor, Representative John Doolittle, a powerful California Republican, may try another day with his plan to block the flow of taxpayers' voluntary contributions from the government treasury. Mr. Doolittle has such faith in private money-raising that he boosted his family income by setting up his wife, Julie, as a consultant being paid a 15 percent commission on every dollar his campaign raises.

Call it family values. Call it brazen. But the missus has received $180,000 since late 2001, operating this private business out of the couple's suburban Virginia home, including among her clients the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The pathetic state of Congressional ethics is that such nepotic profiteering is deemed legal so long as the compensation is "consistent with the market rate." Questions have gone unanswered about whether Julie Doolittle has any real experience in the field. Professional fund-raising associations have condemned payment by commission as unethical, but Mr. Doolittle's office defends it as legal and based on "tireless and effective work."

Mr. Doolittle sits on the Appropriations Committee, to which lobbyists and special interests have an attraction that borders on Pavlovian. No great drumbeating is needed to fill those campaign kitties. Like other lawmakers, Mr. Doolittle indulges "earmarking" — the odious practice of delivering government contracts to favored pleaders who often requite with campaign contributions.

Such quid pro quo politicking predates Watergate. But the insult to taxpayers by Doolittle Inc. is compounded by the move to kill the public financing alternative to big-money political pandering. The presidential check-off system has worked well for three decades, but is being strained by the rocketing private donations that politicians eagerly welcome. Congress needs to update the system's matching fund and spending limits, not obliterate them.


Copyright 2006 The New York Times
Donald Isler

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