Mr. Ashcroft has become a Washington lobbyist, setting himself up ...and marketing his insider's knowledge of how Washington works.Integrity! Nothing like a breath of fresh air in the cesspool known as Washington, DC.
For corporations seeking contracts from the growing homeland security budget, Mr. Ashcroft promises to draw on his central role in the war on terror and in helping set up the Department of Homeland Security. For companies in trouble with regulators, he says his experience in cracking down on corporate corruption can provide valuable insights.
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.
"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."
Before the 9/11 attacks, there were few commercial opportunities at the Justice Department. Since then, the department has become a major clearinghouse for large contracts related to homeland security.
Mr. Ashcroft promises to guide companies through the maze, saying, "I have been at the heart of the war on terror."
After helping prosecute executives at Enron and WorldCom, Mr. Ashcroft also says he can counsel troubled companies on how to deal with government regulators and avoid the fate of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that collapsed after it was indicted in the Enron scandal.
"They need someone who can take threatening circumstances and neutralize them," Mr. Ashcroft said. "I'll be a lightning rod for people facing serious challenges."
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.
In a mission statement to prospective clients, he boasts of his connections. Mr. Ashcroft and "his talented team," the statement says, "have developed and cultivated close relationships with leaders in the corporate world as well as with officials in the top levels of the U.S. Government."
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."
To maintain his conservative ties, Mr. Ashcroft signed up as a visiting law professor at Regent University, a school founded by Pat Robertson, the political evangelical broadcaster.
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