Noose tightens around Doolittle

Former top aide arrested as part of Abramoff scandal

September hasn’t been a good month for Republican Rep. John Doolittle, whose 4th District includes Oroville. Not only was his former legislative director, Kevin Ring, arrested and indicted on 10 counts for his alleged role in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, but the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics named him one of the “most corrupt” lawmakers in Congress.

Ring worked for Doolittle before going to work for Abramoff. According to the Sacramento Bee, Ring did a long list of favors for Doolittle, including offering tickets to sports games, free meals and fund-raising help, allegedly in return for Doolittle’s support on legislation benefiting Abramoff’s clients.

The dealings between the two men were so extensive that at one point, according to the indictment, Doolittle’s chief of staff sent an e-mail to Ring saying the congressman “felt like a subsidiary” of Abramoff’s lobbying firm.

Ring has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Doolittle also maintains innocence, but the FBI has been gathering evidence against him for more than a year, and in January he announced he was stepping down after his current term. Republican Tom McClintock and Democrat Charlie Brown are running to replace him.