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The Gross National Debt

Friday, March 17, 2006

Via The Huffington Post, it seems John Ashcroft has found gainful employment.  The former Attorney General under the first administration of George W. Bush has hung out his K Street shingle (only it's made of gold, not wood) and set up shop as the quintessential "Washington Insider".

More on the flip.

From an AOL News Article:

...in the era of the Jack Abramoff scandal, Mr. Ashcroft has become a Washington lobbyist, setting himself up as something of an anti-Abramoff and marketing his insider's knowledge of how Washington works.

Sorry - I was just having a mental moment there as I undertook the cranial gymnastics required to understand how "insider knowledge" equates with "anti-Ambramoff".  Maybe one of you fine people can explain the logic to me.

"Clients would call in an individual who has a reputation for the highest level of integrity," he said in an interview in his office. "Those who have been in government should not be forbidden from helping people deal with government, which is what I see myself doing." In the hourlong interview, Mr. Ashcroft used the word "integrity" scores of times.

Ah.  So Mr. Ashcroft is the new face of integrity.  I guess he's counting on all of us forgetting the whole 9/11-ball-dropping thing and the Abu Ghraib thing and the Gitmo thing and the [insert yours here] thing.  If this is the best America can offer as far as integrity is concerned, I fear even more for our collective futures.

Here's an interesting nugget:

One of Mr. Ashcroft's newest clients is ChoicePoint, a broker of consumer data that is increasingly being used by the government to keep tabs on people within the United States. The company received millions of dollars in contracts from the Justice Department under Mr. Ashcroft as part of the war on terror and has now hired him to find more.

I guess it makes sense.  At least it ties together his remarkable policy moves, like the spying-on-old-people thing and the watch lists of people who belong to ((GASP)) environmental groups thing.  Still unclear to me is Ashcroft's role on the illegal spying thing.  It might be interesting (are you listening, ePluribus Media?) to see whether and to what extent Ashcroft's Justice department utilized information from sources such as ChoicePoint to accomplish the whole domestic surveillance thing.  If you think it was bad enough that the NSA was potentially sniffing your conversations, I guarantee you it will get a whole lot worse with an Ashcroft lobbying firm having a ChoicePoint client.

"The Ashcroft Group contacted us and we initiated a relationship," said Chuck Jones, a ChoicePoint spokesman. "He's got a lot of knowledge that could benefit ChoicePoint."

I bet.

So what of it?  Even former cabinet members have to work after they retire from government, right?

Mr. Ashcroft is the only former Bush cabinet member and, by anyone's reckoning, the only former attorney general to have registered as a lobbyist. Many former attorneys general have had lucrative careers as political fixers without calling themselves lobbyists; in that sense, Mr. Ashcroft is being more transparent than his predecessors.

I guess we should consider ourselves lucky, then.  Finally:

His staff includes David T. Ayres, his former chief of staff; Juleanna Glover Weiss, a Republican lobbyist and a former press secretary to Vice President Dick Cheney; and a Republican fund-raiser, William C. T. Gaynor II, who helped raise more than $300 million in the 2004 election. He opened his office 10 months after leaving the Justice Department.

Fellow Republicans praise his venture. "To have someone around to guide you to protect the assets of the corporation, it would be John Ashcroft who you would want at the table," said Donald L. Evans, the former commerce secretary. "Any C.E.O. in the 21st century would want him."

Of course.  And by all means - we should ensure that we turn a blind eye to the potential that we are selling our homeland security mission and initiatives to the highest bidder because the corporation must be served at all costs.  Heaven forfend we deny CEOs the opportunity to buy the Federal government on the slightest whim.  I'm sure it's all a part of a coordinated strategy to boost the domestic economy anyway.

Riddle me this:  WHAT happened to lobbying reform?  Apparently Republicans are so comfortable that meaningful reform will not occur that they are openly endorsing the idea that Ashcroft as a lobbyist is a good thing.

COME ON, Democrats.  Grow a couple and stop this kind of thing from happening.  Ever.



posted by RenaRF at 2:18 PM 0 comments links to this post

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