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The FBI raided the Virginia home of Rep. John Doolittle and his wife on Friday, though the Congressman’s lawyer contended the raid was focused on Julie Doolittle’s fundraising records rather than any of the California Republican lawmaker’s own activities.
The Justice Department has been investigating disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s ties to Julie Doolittle, and federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records related to her fundraising firm, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions.
“There was a search warrant executed at the Congressman and his wife’s house on Friday in Oakton, Va., the focus of which was Sierra Dominion records, not the Congressman,” said Doolittle attorney William Barger of the Virginia-based firm Williams and Mullen.
“The Congressman continues to be supportive of his wife and we’re hopeful that the truth will win out in the end.”
On Wednesday evening, Doolittle issued a statement standing behind his wife.
“My wife has been cooperating with the FBI and the Justice Department for almost three years and that cooperation is going to continue in the future,” Doolittle said.
“I support my wife 100 percent and fully expect that the truth will prevail.”
According to Congressional sources, news of the raid began to creep through leadership offices Wednesday afternoon, despite the fact that it had taken place days earlier. It does not appear that Doolittle made any attempt to personally inform House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) of the event. Doolittle has been on the Hill all week and voted on the floor Wednesday.
A spokesman for Boehner declined to comment on the raid because the office had no first-hand knowledge of the event. It also pertained to a spouse, not a sitting Member.
Sources said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) was informed of the raid Wednesday, but it was unclear if he has spoken directly with Doolittle.
A Cole spokeswoman declined to comment.
“We’re still determining the facts,” said spokeswoman Julie Shutley.
The news could present a political problem for Boehner and Cole, because the two leaders have been particularly forceful in sending the message to their colleagues that ethical and legal scrutiny will not be tolerated in the new minority. Republicans lost in 2006 due, in part, to the relentless stream of scandals coming from their side of the aisle in the 109th Congress.
“It’s difficult to say what they’ll do about Doolittle because this appears to be all about his wife,” said one GOP Congressional source. “He’s got problems, but what is the threshold?”
Another GOP aide said there was no indication that Doolittle would leave the House. “There’s no talk of resignation,” the aide said.
The California Republican barely won re-election in 2006 in a solidly conservative district largely due to the investigation and a concentrated effort by Democrats to defeat him. If Doolittle is on the ballot in 2008, he will likely be targeted again.
But in a preview of how Democrats are likely to leap on the development, Doolittle’s 2006 foe, Charlie Brown — who is running again in 2008 after losing to by 3 points last year — released a statement about the raid.