It was almost inevitable. John D. Ashcroft, the former conservative hard- line attorney general, Republican senator from Missouri and scourge of the liberal- and privacy-minded, is headed for the lobby biz.
He announced his new consulting company this week, the Ashcroft Group, which he formed with longtime chief of staff David Ayres. They're bringing on lobbyist/political salon hostess Juleanna Glover Weiss from Clark & Weinstock to advise clients on homeland security, law enforcement and corporate issues. They'll be doing strategic consulting, crisis communication and public affairs, among other services. Lobbying "would not be outside the realm" of what Ashcroft would be doing, Glover Weiss said. But, of course, he'll be following whatever ethics restrictions apply, she added.
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More Special Interests
Homeland security is likely to be a big focus for the firm, considering Ashcroft reigned over the Justice Department during the first three years of the war on terrorism.
"There's not a big issue that a big company would have that John Ashcroft won't have a wise and ethical answer to," Glover Weiss said.
Clients? There are some, she said, but unless there's a legal disclosure requirement or a PR benefit to the client to be associated with Ashcroft, "we're going to be very discreet."
Bringing any Democrats on board? "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," she said.
On a personal note, Glover Weiss, an adviser to Ashcroft on the Hill and press secretary to Vice President Cheney, said the folks at C&W "have been awesome to me."
A Better Bipartisan Balance
There's bipartisan and then there's bipartisan . . .
Democrat Vic Fazio, a former House member from California, is also leaving Clark & Weinstock, but to join the larger Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld law firm. C&W has about 35 folks here, while Akin Gump's D.C. office has 286 lawyers and lobbyists/advisers. And Fazio notes that he was one of only three Democrats at C&W. While Akin Gump has a strong Democratic image, its public policy practice group of 40 or so is fairly split, partisan-wise.
"When I'm out of town, it can burden others to take over for me," Fazio said.
But he stressed that the move gives him "a lot more flexibility" and more opportunity to take part in outside activities. He said he has no plans to bring clients along when he makes the move June 1.
"We had a great run. Vin and I will continue to be friends," he said, referring to his C&W partner Vin Web er, Republican former House member from Minnesota.
Weber wished his friend well and noted that C&W is in the market for some new lobbyists -- Democrats and Republicans.
"No offense to my Democratic friends, but we follow the election," he said, referring to the greater number of Republicans at his shop.
The senior Democrat at C&W is now Sandra K. Stuart, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs in the Clinton administration. The other Democrat is Niles L. Godes, former chief of staff to Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.).
"We definitely want to maintain a bipartisan firm," Stuart said.
Still Room for Democrats
Democrats are continuing to find jobs off the Hill despite the K Street Project's best efforts to convince trade groups and other lobbying operations of the greater desirability of Republicans.
The latest case in point: The Securities Industry Association has hired Roger M. Hollingsworth, deputy chief of staff to Sen. Jon S. Corzine (D-N.J.), as vice president and director of federal government affairs.
On the Hill, Hollingsworth worked on issues important to the financial services industry, including terrorism risk insurance and the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.
Craig Brownstein, vice president for media relations at Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, generally works on big policy stuff. He handled the media campaign for the release of the Sept. 11 commission report. But there's nothing wrong with a little change.
He's now assisting the families of Josh Long and Troy Driscoll, the two teenagers who were rescued off the North Carolina coast last weekend after they spent six days adrift in the Atlantic Ocean without food or fresh water. The families have been swamped with media requests, book deals and such.
A South Carolina law firm brought in to help called someone in D.C. and "it was six-degrees-of-separation referral that brought my name up," Brownstein said.
"Right now, we're letting everyone just step back and allow the kids and their families to catch their breath, heal and recover and see how they want to proceed," he said.
Furthermore . . .
Martin Whitmer and Tom Worrall, two Washington hands, have set up shop as -- what else? -- Whitmer & Worrall.
Whitmer was deputy chief of staff at the Department of Transportation and earlier was at the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and was an aide to then-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.). Worrall was head of the technology practice of the Rhoads Group (formerly Boland & Madigan). He raised big bucks for the Bush presidential campaign.
Jon Deuser, chief of staff to Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and earlier an aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), will be joining the Smith-Free Group May 24.
Michael Liu, former assistant secretary for public and Indian housing at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is joining Dutko Worldwide as senior vice president.