Republicans who voted for incumbent John Doolittle in the June primary sent a strong message: They don’t care about revelations of unethical behavior by their congressman. But this election is not just about voters in California's 4th congressional district. This is about the damage unethical behavior does to Congress and the country as a whole.
In Doolittle's case, three things stand out: First, there’s the 15% commission he pays his wife on contributions that come to his political committees. This is money that goes directly to Doolittle family income - using political contributions for personal gain. Then, there’s the unseemly connections between political contributions from San Diego businessman Brent Wilkes and Congressman Doolittle's actions to win $37 million for military products the military didn’t even ask for. There’s also the coincidence between money paid by lobbyist Jack Abramoff to Julie Doolittle and Congressman Doolittle's actions for Abramoff's Indian clients.
Of course, it’s up to voters in the 4th district to decide whether to re-elect Doolittle in November. But it is up to Republicans in Congress to decide whether Doolittle's behavior should continue to be rewarded with key leadership posts. We all suffer when public service becomes personal enrichment.
Pia Lopez writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.