WASHINGTON – Rep. John Doolittle said Friday he will no longer employ his wife as his campaign fundraiser, a practice that gave his household a 15 percent cut of all donations.
Doolittle, who's also drawn criticism for links to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, said he will hire an outside fundraiser. He made the announcement in an op-ed piece he distributed to newspapers in his northern California district, noting his tough battle for re-election.
"After winning my election with less than 50 percent of the vote, I recognize that change is needed for me to rebuild the trust and support of my constituents," Doolittle wrote.
The change was one of 10 steps that Doolittle pledged to take after a campaign clouded by questions about his wife's fundraising and his own ties to Abramoff. Doolittle also promised to spend more time in his district and make himself more available to the media.
Doolittle's wife, Julie, had done work for Abramoff and was subpoenaed more than two years ago in the Justice Department's influence-peddling investigation of the now-imprisoned lobbyist. Doolittle has drawn scrutiny in the probe and hired an attorney to talk with federal prosecutors.
Julie Doolittle did all of her husband's campaign fundraising, and he paid her 15 percent of every donation she brought in, instead of the industry practice of paying fundraisers a flat fee.
Doolittle beat Democrat Charlie Brown in November by 49 percent to 46 percent, a narrow margin for a solidly Republican district.