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Thursday, April 6, 2006 07:41 am

Ashcroft resurfaces

Former attorney general is back — as a lobbyist!

All of you John “Mad Dog” Ashcroft fans will be glad to hear that he’s back in government! Well, not in government, exactly. President George W. Bush’s former attorney general is actually working the smarmy edges of government, having become a Washington lobbyist. He’s put his reputation, expertise, and — most important — his connections up for hire as an influence-peddler. In his pitch to potential corporate clients, Ashcroft is blunt about what he has to sell, boasting that after years as a senator and cabinet officer, he has “developed and cultivated close relationships with leaders . . .  in the top levels of government.” In other words: “Have golden Rolodex, will travel!” Bizarrely, however, Ashcroft says that he’ll be successful because he’s a man of “the highest level of integrity.” Then, getting serious, Ashcroft says that he’ll specialize in getting his former colleagues in the Department of Homeland Security to give government contracts to his clients. He’ll also use his insider knowledge to help corporate criminals avoid punishment by regulators. Apparently these activities are what passes for high integrity in Ashcroft’s mind. Who’s hiring him? Well, he snickers, “It’s not Billy Bob’s car wash in Peoria.” No, indeed — working for the small guy would take a deep integrity that Ashcroft has never known. Instead, he’s lobbying for the likes of ChoicePoint. This data-mining giant was given millions of dollars worth of Department of Justice contracts when Ashcroft was AG, and now ChoicePoint executives are paying him six figures to deliver more of our tax dollars to them. For Ashcroft, it’s really about money. He says he’s deeply touched that corporations seem to love him: “It’s been gratifying and I’m earning significant multiples of what I’ve ever earned before.” Now that’s integrity!
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