Friday, January 20, 2006

Ashcroft, Korea, Boeing, and Israel

On the first anniversary of Bush's second inauguration, what better time to talk about the post-White House activities of a Bush all-star, former Attorney General John Ashcroft. After leaving Washington--well, not really leaving Washington, but just the White House--public servant Ashcroft has become a serve-yourself lobbyist.

The Chicago Tribune, by way of the Bay Area's
Contra Costa Times, reports that in less than three months since registering as a lobbyist, "Ashcroft has banked at least $269,000 from just four clients and appears to be developing a practice centered on firms that want to capitalize on a government demand for homeland security technology that boomed under sometimes controversial policies he promoted while in office."

Three clients of Ashcroft's lobbying firm want his help in selling data or software with homeland security applications, according to government filings.

A fourth, Israel Aircraft Industries International, is competing with Chicago's Boeing Co. to sell the government of South Korea a billion-dollar airborne early warning system.

While Ashcroft's lobbying is within government rules for former officials, it is nonetheless a departure from the practice of attorneys general for at least the last thirty years.

While others have counseled corporate clients or perhaps even lobbied in a specific case as part of law firm business, Ashcroft is the first in recent memory to open a lobbying firm.
Mr. Ashcroft, who loves quoting the Bible and claims to be guided by it, seems to be unfamiliar with 1 Timothy 6:10, which reminds us that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

Anyhoo, I stumbled across this while doing a follow-up on this December post. I think Marmot might have mentioned it, too, though I can't find it now. Boeing is a major job-provider on the West Coast of the United States, and it has been hurting from lost contracts and Bush administration plans to stop making the C-17 work horse.

[photo: In an earlier time, Ashcroft dreams of meeting naked Amazon women in silver paint, a fantasy which he is able to afford now that he's a big-time lobbyist doling out American influence to the highest bidder.]

Okay, so Ashcroft is not actually breaking any laws, but it's disgusting that influence is so easily bought and sold in what is supposed to be a democracy, especially when it is hurting American companies. If they were losing contracts on merit, that would be one thing, but that's not what it seems here.

An interesting thing is that Ashcroft's company collected $220,000 from Oracle Corp., which won Justice Department approval of a multi-billion acquisition less than a month after hiring Ashcroft in October. As attorney general, Ashcroft sued Oracle in 2004 to try to block an earlier acquisition by the company.

1 comment:

  1. Boeing, America's number 1 corporate welfare pig, I mean "special tax incentive" recipient, is far from the risk of going under or losing money. It has been highly successful in the civilian sector and its 787 has far outsold the Airbus competition. Though Airbus has the larger market share, Boeing was more profitable due do the higher share of new larger planes sold.

    Speaking of Airbus, it gets a lot of flack among certain quarters of Americans for enjoying European government funding (i.e. a subsidy), but few people realize that Boeing actually gets even more public funding though in a roundabout manner. A lot of aerospace research costs are borne by NASA or other government research institutions instead and of course there are yearly Boeing exclusive billion dollar tax refunds.


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