Fewer than three months after registering as a lobbyist, former Attorney General John Ashcroft has been paid at least $269,000 by four clients, says the Chicago Tribune. He appears to be developing a practice centered on companies that want to capitalize on a government demand for homeland security technology that boomed under policies he promoted in office. Three clients of Ashcroft’s firm want his help in selling data or software with homeland security applications. A fourth, Israel Aircraft Industries International, is competing with Boeing Co. to sell the government of South Korea a billion-dollar airborne radar system.
Ashcroft’s lobbying is within government rules for former officials, but it is a departure from the practice of attorneys general for at least the last 30 years. Most former attorneys general have moved to think tanks or academia, or returned to the practice of law. “One would have thought that a former attorney general wouldn’t be doing that,” said John Schmidt, an associate attorney general in the Clinton administration now practicing law in Chicago. Attorneys general have tended to avoid the role of “a hired gun selling his connections,” said Charles Tiefer, a former deputy general counsel to the House and author of “Veering Right: How the Bush Administration Subverts the Law for Conservative Causes.” Juleanna Glover Weiss, an Ashcroft spokesperon, said last year, that he is “one of the most knowledgeable people in the world in the antitrust and homeland security fields, and so it’s natural that companies like Oracle and ChoicePoint would approach him.”