Local Republican leaders were quick to defend Rep. John Doolittle in the wake of another allegation of misconduct concerning the congressman's campaign finances.
Doolittle's wife, Julie Doolittle, owner of Sierra Dominion Financial Institutions, receives a 15 percent commission from her husband's campaign on funds she raises for him, and some of "that is of course shared with him" for household expenses, said his spokesman Richard Robinson.
Political candidates are not allowed to use campaign contributions as personal funds, according to federal election laws.
However, employing a family member for campaign work is "common or consistent in the industry," Robinson said, and the Federal Elections Commission in 2001 cleared Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., to hire his wife for campaign work.
Betty Hood, a fundraiser for the Nevada County Republican Women's Federation, staunchly defended Doolittle, R-Roseville, in the most recent controversy regarding his campaign finances.
"As long as it's legal," it's ethical, said Hood, adding she still strongly favors Doolittle to his rival, Auburn Mayor Mike Holmes, in the June 6 primary election.
Rep. Doolittle also retains the support of Nevada County Republican Party Chairman Tony Gilchrease.
"Campaign funds are their own money to do whatever they want with, if they've earned it working on a campaign as a consultant or manager or that sort," he said.
Gilchrease added that he has donated between $500 to $1,000 to Doolittle's campaign and might donate more.
Rep. Doolittle has previously come under fire for ties to lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff, who personally donated $4,000 to Doolittle's campaign, Robinson said, and whose clients and associates contributed approximately $100,000.
Julie Doolittle is a former employee of Alexander Strategy Group, a Washington lobbying firm that closed following scandals associated with Abramoff, Robinson said.
To reach staff writer Josh Singer, e-mail joshs@theunion .com or call 477-4234.