John Ashcroft, Lobbyist
From Abramoff to Ashcroft. So the former holy rolling AG has now hung out his K Street shingle, adding registered lobbyist to his resume.
And what an illustrious resume it is, including stints as governor and attorney general of Missouri, U.S. Senator, U.S. Attorney General, and, perhaps most memorably, baritone for the Singing Senators quartet (who'll ever forget his rousing Internet hit, "Let the Eagle Soar"?)
Among his career highlights: anointing himself with holy oil before taking the oath of office as A.G. (he had to make do with Crisco before being sworn in to the Senate), losing his Senate seat to a dead man, and spending $8,000 to drape a curtain over a bare-breasted statue at the Justice Dept. And, of course, helping craft the Patriot Act.
But all that's behind him now that he's begun signing up a roster of deep-pocketed clients, such as Israel Aircraft Industries International, an Israeli aerospace company going toe-to-toe with Boeing over billions in military contracts. Asked to name the rest of his clients, Ashcroft told the New York Times: "It's not Billy Bob's car wash in Peoria." I wonder what his problem is with Peoria.
Under his guidance, the Justice Department ended up charging only one person, Zacarias Moussaoui, with direct involvement with 9/11. And we see how well that's going. But Ashcroft has found a way to turn 9/11 into a solid business opportunity.
According to the Times, "Before the 9/11 attacks, there were few commercial opportunities at the Justice Department. Since then, the department has become a major clearinghouse for contracts related to homeland security." And Ashcroft is poised to grease the wheels at his former stomping grounds. "I have been at the heart of the war on terror," he boasts. Wonder if he's going to put that on his business card? Maybe he can teach a Learning Annex course: "Fighting Terror for Fun and Profit."
For instance, ChoicePoint, a company that sells consumer data, recently hired Ashcroft to help it add to the mega-buck, war-on-terror-related contracts the firm had landed from the Justice Department while Ashcroft was still in charge. According to a ChoicePoint spokesman: "The Ashcroft Group contacted us and we initiated a relationship." How cozy.
"Those who have been in government," says Ashcroft, "should not be forbidden from helping people deal with government, which is what I see myself doing." "Deal" being the operative word.
Ashcroft is being handsomely rewarded for his helpful ways. "I've been stunned at how good people have been to me," says Ashcroft, revealing a remarkably low stun threshold. "It's been gratifying, and I'm earning significant multiples of what I've ever earned before."
Cue the Beltway Baritone; it's time for a little Crony Karaoke: "Let the Earnings Soar."