Doolittle must go

John Doolittle must be defeated.

For his ties to the congressional corruption scandal surrounding Jack Abramoff, for his unquestioning support for the Bush administration and its misguided war in Iraq, for the shameless way he has used his power as a congressman to line his own pockets, for his reactionary views on the environment and for reasons too numerous to list, Doolittle must be defeated on November 7. We urge voters in the 4th District to support Doolittle’s Democratic challenger, retired Air Force officer Charlie Brown.

Conventional wisdom has it that a Democrat can’t win the 4th District. Stretching from East Sacramento to the Nevada border and north to Oregon, it’s gerrymandered to be a safe haven for the GOP, with registered Republicans outnumbering Democrats 48 percent to 30 percent. But polls show that support for Doolittle is waning as the war in Iraq drags on and revelations of his relationship to Abramoff have come to light.

Abramoff, who is awaiting sentencing on three felony charges, stands at the center of the biggest congressional corruption scandal in decades. Several lawmakers have opted to return Abramoff’s gifts and donations to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Some—including former House Speaker Tom DeLay, to whom Doolittle was a top lieutenant—have been hounded out of office due to their association with the lobbyist.

Doolittle has declined to return any of the $131,000 he received from Abramoff and his associates, despite the fact that on several occasions he took action on behalf of Abramoff’s clients just before or after receiving a contribution. Adding to the stench of corruption is the fact that Doolittle funnels political contributions through Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, a one-person firm run by his wife, Julie, out of his home, allowing his wife to make a 15-percent commission on money given to the Doolittle campaign. It is illegal to spend campaign contributions for personal purposes, yet Doolittle has transferred $180,000 from his campaign committees to his wife via this cozy arrangement. He’s also been involved in the growing controversy over “earmark” provisions that are tacked onto unrelated legislation to funnel money to special-interest projects.

Doolittle’s part in the “culture of corruption” that has engulfed Congress is the best reason to send him packing, but it’s far from the only one. Liberals will want to oppose him for his egregious voting record on the environment, which recently prompted the League of Conservation Voters to assign him its lowest possible rating. Conservatives will note that his votes against improved health benefits for veterans recently lost for him the endorsement of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. And there is Doolittle’s support for the Bush-administration policies that have given us the quagmire in Iraq (a war Brown opposes), his shilling for the Auburn dam at the expense of more effective flood-control measures, and so much more.

Fortunately, there is a very worthy alternative. Brown, a career Air Force officer and a veteran of both Vietnam and the Gulf War, espouses a moderate conservatism that well-suits the 4th District. We strongly recommend that voters dump Doolittle and his corrupt politics, prove the pundits wrong and elect Brown.