WASHINGTON (AP) - GOP Rep. John Doolittle accused the government
Sunday of leaking word of an FBI search on his home to coincide with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' Senate testimony on the fired U.S. attorneys controversy.
Doolittle, who's under scrutiny in the Jack Abramoff influence peddling scandal, made the allegation in an op-ed published in the Auburn Journal in his Northern California district. FBI agents executed a search warrant on Doolittle's home in Virginia on Friday April 13. News of the search became public on Wednesday April 18, and Gonzales appeared before a Senate committee on April 19.
"I do not believe it was a coincidence that the leak came the day before Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified before Congress on charges that his office was overly partisan in its firing of eight U.S. Attorneys," wrote Doolittle, "especially considering Gonzales specifically cited his recent prosecution of Republican members of Congress as evidence to the contrary."
Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra and FBI spokesman
Richard Kolko both declined comment.
Doolittle, a nine-term conservative who denies any wrongdoing,
contended that the timing and execution of the search "clearly indicate that there was more behind the search of our home than the pursuit of justice."
The search warrant sought information about a fundraising business run from the home by Doolittle's wife, Julie, that had done work for Abramoff's firm.
Abramoff, once a high-powered GOP lobbyist, is in jail and cooperating with the government after admitting defrauding his clients with promises of access to Congress and the executive branch.
"I now believe that the search of our home was in large measure an attempt to strong arm my wife in order to get me to admit to a crime - a crime that I did not commit," Doolittle wrote.
He contended that Mrs. Doolittle has been fully responsive to the government in the three years since first being contacted with
questions about her work for Abramoff.
"Despite that fact, we have been subjected to leaks by the government, which in turn have led to irresponsible speculation and sensationalized reporting by the media, which in turn has led to the erosion of support and trust of my constituents," wrote Doolittle.
Doolittle complained that during the search Julie, who was home alone, "was sequestered in the kitchen and not allowed to move
without an escort. She was not even allowed to use the bathroom in
our own home without an FBI agent escorting her there."
He claimed that agents seized personal items such as his wife's Ipod - but left behind an accordion file with information about work Julie Doolittle had done for Abramoff.
He said he was convinced the search "had much more to do with
an attempt to intimidate us and garner media attention than the pursuit of the truth."
Doolittle nearly lost re-election last year amid questions about his ethics. After the raid on his home he relinquished his seat on
the powerful Appropriations Committee, leaving him without a
The Abramoff investigation has netted 11 convictions of GOP aides, Bush administration officials and others. One former member of Congress, GOP Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, pleaded guilty last year to
conspiracy and making false statements.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)