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In total, Doolittle’s two campaign accounts have spent close to $6,000 on child care since 2001.
Before that report, Doolittle was the subject of negative press attention related to his campaign’s employment of Sierra Dominion Financial Services, a fundraising firm run by his wife, Julie, out of their Oakton, Va., home.
The practice is allowed under Federal Election Commission rules, and several Members employ spouses and relatives on their campaign payrolls. But Doolittle’s actions have received extra media attention because of the amounts of money involved.
Since 2002, Sierra Dominion has banked close to $200,000 fundraising for Doolittle’s PAC and his re-election account, as well as CAT PAC, the committee run by what was formerly named the Conservative Action Team (and is now known as the Republican Study Committee).
Julie Doolittle and Sierra Dominion took another $38,000 in fees from Doolittle’s 527 account from 2000 to 2002.
Throughout his career, Doolittle has long been a staunch opponent of limits on campaign contributions, pushing instead for a lifting of all federal limits on donations while increasing disclosure and transparency. Such a plan would also have the practical effect of increasing the amount of commissions his wife could earn by raising money for him.
Beyond lifting those limits, Doolittle also has called in the past for a relaxation of other fundraising restrictions.
The Californian’s 1991 list of proposals also called for House Administration to “authorize making fundraising phone calls from the office” and to “allow use of campaign funds to reimburse government for incidental non-government use of equipment such as automobiles, telephones, fax machines, and copy machines, etc., to pay for lunches in House Restaurant, and to pay for equipment, furniture, and decorations in House offices.”
Those proposals were never implemented, and Doolittle apparently never sought to resuscitate them. But his 1991 effort to garner a daily stipend for Members was only his first try on that issue.
In 1999, Doolittle tried again — and failed — to round up support from his colleagues for a per-diem plan. In that case he teamed up with then-House Administration Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) to push for giving Members $125 or $150 per day tax-free to cover living expenses. If the program had been in place in 1998, it would have meant essentially a $15,000 to $18,000 raise for lawmakers.
Doolittle and a handful of colleagues, including Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), made another effort in 2001 to initiate a per diem, this time advocating $165 for every day the House was in session. Once again, the plan was scuttled by House leaders from both parties worried about the public relations fallout from such a move.
Doolittle repeatedly has declined over the years to discuss his advocacy of a per diem for Members.
On the travel front, Doolittle has taken $69,000 worth of privately funded trips since 2000, according to PoliticalMoneyLine.com, though the site’s overall rankings show that total is only the 83rd most among lawmakers in that period.
In February 2005, Doolittle took himself and his daughter, Courtney, on a $29,300 intercontinental jaunt financed by two associations established by Ed Buckham, the former chief of staff to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas). From Feb. 19 to Feb. 23, Doolittle and his daughter were in Seoul on an “educational/fact finding” trip sponsored by the Korean-US Exchange Council, a group that was created in party by Buckham’s Alexander Strategy Group.