Abramoff scandal claims another casualty

Months after calling his critics "weasels," California Rep. John Doolittle says he won't run for reelection.

Published January 10, 2008 7:01PM (EST)

One more casualty of the Jack Abramoff scandal: Under investigation for his dealings with the disgraced lobbyist, Rep. John Doolittle announced today that he won't run for reelection this year.

As a lieutenant to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Doolittle received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Abramoff himself and some $140,000 more from his clients and associates. He dined at Abramoff's restaurant and made use of Abramoff's luxury skybox at what is now the Verizon Center, and his wife worked for -- or at least collected money from -- Abramoff's firm. As the Sacramento Bee notes, Julie Doolittle's firm received nearly $67,000 from Abramoff's firm between 2002 and 2004, and the only "known work" she did in return involved a fundraiser for an Abramoff client that was eventually canceled. (Julie Doolittle was also profiting from her husband's campaign; through a consulting arrangement, she received 15 percent of the campaign contributions made to her husband.)

The FBI raided Doolittle's Virginia home in April, and several of Doolittle's staffers have gone before a federal grand jury. While the contours of the investigation aren't fully known, prosecutors may be focused on Doolittle's efforts on behalf of Abramoff's Indian clients as well as work he did involving the Northern Mariana Islands -- work that ultimately helped Abramoff win back a lucrative lobbying contract he had lost.

Amid Republican concerns that he would lose in 2008 to the Democratic challenger who nearly beat him in 2006, Doolittle in September called his GOP critics "weasels" and vowed that he'd run for reelection no matter what. "I will not step aside," he said. "I'm running again, period."

Quoting from the Bible this morning, however, Doolittle said that "the time for my departure has come. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race."

The question now: Are prosecutors finished with him?

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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