Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, now a Washington lobbyist, has amassed a staff of Republican insiders and rented fancy offices, says the New York Times. For corporations seeking contracts from the growing homeland security budget, he promises to draw on his central role in the war on terror and in helping set up the Department of Homeland Security. For businesses in trouble with regulators, he says his experience in cracking down on corporate corruption can provide valuable insights. “Those who have been in government should not be forbidden from helping people deal with government, which is what I see myself doing,” he tells the Times.
Since opening his office in September, Ashcroft said he had lined up 21 clients, turning down two for every one accepted. Some critics find his move to be undignified. Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, said that because Ashcroft had worked only in government, “he cannot claim to have any business expertise.” “What is he selling,” she asked, “other than connections and knowledge of how to game the system?” One of Ashcroft’s new clients is ChoicePoint, a broker of consumer data that is increasingly being used by the government to keep tabs on people. The company received millions of dollars in contracts from the Justice Department under Ashcroft as part of the war on terror and has now hired him to find more.