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From Counselor to Consultant

Former attorney general John D. Ashcroft's new consulting company, the Ashcroft Group, will focus on strategic consulting, crisis communication and public affairs.
Former attorney general John D. Ashcroft's new consulting company, the Ashcroft Group, will focus on strategic consulting, crisis communication and public affairs. (Gerald Herbert - AP)

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By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, May 5, 2005

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.

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.


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