FBI searches Republican lawmaker’s home

The FBI searched the Virginia home of Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) last Friday in its investigation into ties between the congressman and his wife, Julie, and disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to law enforcement and other Congressional and K Street sources.

The search took place on the same day that his former chief of staff, Kevin Ring, abruptly resigned from his lobbying firm. Ring left Doolittle’s office to work for Abramoff at the law firm Greenberg Traurig and may have played a role in Abramoff’s decision to hire Julie Doolittle’s consulting firm. After the Abramoff scandal broke, Ring went to work for the lobbying firm, Barnes and Thornburg.

Doolittle came within three percentage points of losing his election in November after facing months of scrutiny over his relationship with Abramoff, who is in jail for an array of fraud, bribery and money-laundering charges. The lawmaker has denied any wrongdoing.

Throughout his campaign, Doolittle refused to return an estimated $50,000 he received from Abramoff clients, mostly tribes, between 1999 and 2004. Abramoff also personally donated $14,000 between 1999 and 2004 to Doolittle’s congressional campaigns.

Doolittle used Abramoff’s luxury sports box for a fundraiser without initially reporting it to the Federal Election Commission.

Doolittle also has been under fire for paying his wife’s company, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, a 15 percent commission on all contributions that the company raised for Doolittle’s campaign committee and leadership PAC. Her only other clients were Abramoff’s former firm, Greenberg Traurig; Abramoff’s former restaurant Signatures; and the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council, which Ed Buckham, a former chief of staff to ex-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), created.

The Justice Department previously subpoenaed Julie Doolittle’s files.

Doolittle also received contributions from indicted defense contractor Brent Wilkes and his associates, and investigators are probing whether those contributions are linked to any official action Doolittle took to help Wilkes’ company obtain millions of dollars in government earmarks.

Wilkes recently was indicted in connection with his investigation stemming from former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s (R-Calif.) bribery conviction and jailing.

Attempts to obtain a copy of the search warrant at the U.S. District Courthouse in Alexandria were unsuccessful. Of the 126 search warrants logged there since the beginning of February, 90 (or 71 percent) are “under seal.”