Dems Slam Ashcroft for 'Backroom' $52M Contract

Ex-AG denies charges in House hearing
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2008 4:22 PM CDT
Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, left, talks to attorney Timothy Dickinson on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 11, 2008, prior to testifying before a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – John Ashcroft angrily denied congressional Democrats' allegations today that a lucrative no-bid contract the Justice Department awarded him represents a conflict of interest, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Democrats characterized the contract as a “backroom sweetheart deal” because Ashcroft's ex-subordinates selected his firm to monitor a medical supply company under investigation for providing kickbacks. The deal could be worth up to $52 million.

“Mr. Ashcroft was selected with no public notice and no bidding,” Rep. Linda Sanchez said at a Judiciary Committee hearing, questioning the circumstances of a “former employee hiring the former boss for a very lucrative contract.” Ashcroft remained adamant. “There is not a conflict, there is not an appearance of a conflict,” he said, noting that his fees were paid by the company, not by taxpayers.