Doolittle named in corruption trial

Former congressman, wife, called co-conspirators in Ring bribery scandal
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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John Doolittle has been named as a co-conspirator in the corruption trial of a former aide. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia trial of Kevin Ring on a 10-county federal indictment took a turn toward Doolittle’s involvement last week when the Justice Department was instructed to identify by name all public officials alleged to be co-conspirators. In documents filed last Thursday, Doolittle’s was the most prominent name on the list of co-conspirators. Among the other 10 identified by the Justice Department were Doolittle’s wife, Julie, the ex-congressman’s former media spokeswoman Laura Blackann, former chief of staff David Lopez and two former Doolittle legislative directors, Gregory Orlando and Peter Evich. Doolittle has denied any wrongdoing in ties to Ring and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff but continues to be investigated by the Justice Department. He has never been charged with a crime in a case that goes back to at least 2003. Ring has been charged with 10 felony counts surrounding allegations of exchanging tickets to concerts and sporting events for helping clients of Abramoff’s firm. Sixteen others have been charged and pleaded guilty in plea agreements. Ring is the first to take his case to trial. He faces a 20-year prison term on the most serious counts. The judge handling the case agreed Friday to list Doolittle and the others as co-conspirators, which means their e-mails can be admitted as evidence rather than as hearsay. Tom Hudson, president of the Placer County Republican Party, said that any connection after several years of Justice Department scrutiny is more about “bad-mouthing” John and Julie Doolittle than about justice. “I think the fact that they have never been indicted after an extensive witch hunt is about the best proof of their innocence that we can get,” Hudson said. Hudson said he’s still questioning circumstances surrounding the 2007 raid on the Doolittle’s Virginia home that indicated then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was using it as a way to show his office was bipartisan. “It’s shameful,” Hudson said. “If there was a case, they should have indicted him within the statute of limitations.” Larry DuBois, president of the Placer County Democrats, said that both the county Democratic Party and the campaign for Democratic challenger Charlie Brown felt during the election race of 2006 that the Justice Department was taking the right course. “We felt he had his hands on things he shouldn’t be part of and that if he needed to be brought up on charges, it was up to the Justice Department,” DuBois said. “Unfortunately a lot of people in Placer County didn’t believe that during the election.” Doolittle, R-Roseville, narrowly won the election and then chose not to run again. He had served nine years in Congress and rose to secretary of the House Republican Conference, the sixth ranking elected position in the House.