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Doolittle's Promises On Campaign Finances

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

The New York Times slogan has always been "All the news that's fit to print," but what is more likely to wind up in our newspapers and on TV is "All the news there is room for."

The Iraq story pushed almost everything off the front pages and the TV news last week, as it should have. But when that happens I comb the inside pages for stories that deserved more attention.

My nominee for last week's story that shouldn't be overlooked came from the Washington Post, had nothing to do with Iraq and involved a little known California Congressman, John T. Doolittle.

It's even a positive story, sort of. Congressman Doolittle said he is going to change his ways, and he is candid about the reason — he almost got beat in the last election.

What's he going to do? He has decided to replace his wife as his campaign fundraiser. That means she can no longer take a 15 percent cut of the money donated to his campaigns and put it in the family bank account.

Over the last three years, she's enriched the family fortune by $100,000 — not bad as walking-around-money goes.

I'm glad Congressman Doolittle is making things right. He's also promised to hold more news conferences — wow, that's a real sacrifice! — but it does underline what a joke our campaign finance laws have become. And it begs the question: Are other members of Congress availing themselves of this little fringe benefit?

Now that this story is out, I have a feeling we'll get the answer to that sometime soon — may even wind up on the front page.

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By Bob Schieffer