Ashcroft to Testify About No-Bid Contract

As Attorney General, John Ashcroft gained valuable experience testifying before congressional committees. He'll put that experience to use when he testifies in his new role as a highly paid contractor for the Justice Department he once headed.

The former attorney general is considered a key witness in the inquiry into lucrative federal monitoring contracts awarded by federal prosecutors to hand-picked monitors to oversee deferred prosecutions.

The House hearing was prompted, in part, by complaints from two New Jersey congressmen, Reps. Frank Pallone and Bill Pascrell, after Christopher Christie, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, awarded a contract said to be worth $27 million or more to Ashcroft to monitor a medical device maker that had entered a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors. ...

Christie, who has defended the practice as a method to correct corporate misbehavior while preserving jobs, was once Ashcroft's subordinate.

Ashcroft agreed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee subcommittee without a subpoena. He will undoubtedly be ready to explain why the services his firm contracted to provide are worth a paycheck that may exceed $27 million. [more...]

Ashcroft attended a September news conference in Newark where Christie named him as monitor for Zimmer Holdings Inc., of Warsaw, Ind., one of five makers of replacement hips and knees that agreed to pay $310 million and accept federal monitors to settle concerns over doctor kickbacks. Ashcroft's Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm, The Ashcroft Group LLC, stands to make from $27 million to $52 million over 18 months, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Christie would be a more meaningful witness than Ashcroft given Christie's responsibility for this no-bid madness.

Such agreements have been increasingly used by the Justice Department, including several times by Christie in recent years for medical device makers, a pharmaceutical company and a hospital.

Will Christie testify?

Judiciary Committee spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said the Justice Department would send a U.S. attorney from Georgia to testify rather than Christie.

"I would like to see both Ashcroft and Christie testify," said [Rep. Frank] Pallone, a Democrat from Long Branch who has proposed legislation tightening oversight on deferred prosecution agreements. "I think you need to have input not only from Ashcroft, the appointed monitor, but from Christie, because we need to know the processes involved in selecting these monitors, the basis and substance of these agreements."

Perhaps a more firmly worded request for Christie's testimony, backed the threat of a subpoena, would secure testimony that's likely more important than Ashcroft's.

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  • Display: Sort:
    While they've got Ashcroft under oath (none / 0) (#1)
    by litigatormom on Mon Feb 25, 2008 at 09:50:17 PM EST
    why don't they ask him about Abu Gonzales' midnight visit to his hospital room so that he could sign new authorizations while under the influence of heavy sedatives?

    I'm very happy Congress is investigating (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 25, 2008 at 10:08:03 PM EST
    this.  I've read the monitors aren't even monitoring.

    Cronyism doesn't get much (none / 0) (#3)
    by Joike on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 11:52:34 AM EST
    more blatant than this.

    A former subordinate hires your firm, no questions asked, at a high price.

    Gosh, do you think that subordinate might be able to find a job with that lawfirm at the end of '08?

    Do we need any more evidence that the GOP looks at government as an ATM?

    How many billions of our dollars have been pissed away to crooks like these with zero oversight?

    Gosh, do you think we could pay for universal healthcare with some of the money that was stolen from us by Bush, Cheney et al?

    Policy disagreements are one thing.  I don't begrudge a person the right to hold any political stance if they are willing to defend it, but this widespread abuse of the nation's treasury is so maddening.  You cannot wash away the immorallity (one could say it is treason) of Abramof, Delay, Cunningham, Renzi, etc. with an entire suit made out of flag pins.