Democratic congressional aide admits embezzlement

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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