Friday, February 03, 2006

Former Aide to U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, Acknowledges Embezzling More Than $166,000

ABC News
Congressman's Aide Admits to Embezzling
Former Aide to U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, Acknowledges Embezzling More Than $166,000
The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas - A former aide to U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett has acknowledged embezzling more than $166,000 from the Democrat's campaign fund and from other groups, according to her attorney.

Kristi Willis, 37, has apologized and intends to pay the money back, her lawyer said. Meanwhile, Travis County prosecutors are investigating.

Willis is a longtime ally of Doggett's and a well-known figure in Austin political circles.

She has acknowledged taking the money from Doggett; another $17,000 from state House candidate Andy Brown; and at least $10,000 from the Capitol Area Democratic Women, an organization she once served as treasurer.

Her attorney, Charles Grigson, issued a statement saying Willis "deeply regrets her action. ... She has a serious personal psychological problem that has manifested itself in a spending addiction for which she is seeking long-term professional help."

Willis worked in Doggett's Austin office from 1998 to 2004, most recently as his district director, said James Cousar, Doggett's campaign treasurer.

Grigson said the misappropriated money was for meals and nights out, not big-ticket items.

"If it was something expensive like a Mercedes, we could sell the car and pay some back," he said.

Willis or her family has already paid back $40,000 to Doggett's campaign, all the money to Brown's campaign and $2,000 to the Capitol Area Democratic Women, officials said.

Claire Dawson-Brown, chief of the Travis County district attorney's grand jury division, said her office is investigating.

Brown has said he does not intend to press charges. Cousar said that no decision has been made whether Doggett will pursue charges.

Brown and Doggett's offices and the Capitol Area Democratic Women said Wednesday that they now have policies in place to verify their spending.