Doolittle leads rivals in latest reports |

Doolittle leads rivals in latest reports

WASHINGTON (AP) ” Two of the most high-profile Republicans in California’s congressional district are well ahead of their opponents in fundraising, according to new campaign finance reports.

Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin, a member of the House Republican leadership whose name has surfaced in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, raised $216,000 during the period for a total of $1.2 million for the campaign. He’s spent just over $1 million and had $261,000 cash on-hand at the end of the period.

Doolittle’s opponent, retired Air Force helicopter pilot Charles Brown, raised $109,000 during the period, for a total of $254,000 during the campaign. He has spent $179,000 and has $740,000 cash on-hand.

The reports covering May 18-June 30 were due Saturday to the Federal Election Commission.

The reports also show that Doolittle paid his wife, Julie Doolittle, nearly $7,000 in fundraising commissions for the reporting period. Doolittle pays his wife 15 percent commission on each donation she’s directly responsible for raising ” a practice that’s drawn criticism, since fundraisers commonly earn a flat fee.

Doolittle has defended the practice, saying it ensures his wife only gets paid for work that actually bears fruit.

House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, who’s drawn opposition from environmentalists for his attempts to rewrite drilling and species laws, raised $547,000 during the most recent reporting period, for a total of $2.2 million raised for the campaign. Pombo has spent $1.4 million and ended the period with $939,000 cash on-hand.

Pombo’s opponent, wind engineer Jerry McNerney, raised $218,000 for the period, bringing his campaign total to $449,000. He has spent $313,000 and ended up with $152,000 in cash.

The reports also indicate that McNerney owes $18,000 in salary payments ” to himself. McNerney’s campaign manager, A.J. Carrillo, said that McNerney drew a salary during his last campaign against Pombo, in 2004, since he was not working and was a full-time candidate. McNerney never actually collected the money, Carrillo said, and isn’t taking salary payments now.

Early in the campaign cycle Democrats discussed targeting both Pombo and Doolittle ” particularly Pombo, who’s in a less heavily Republican district and has drawn high-spending opposition from environmentalists.

But the candidate the Washington Democratic establishment backed to run against Pombo lost in the primary, and Democrats have shifted their attention to more competitive contests elsewhere.

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