Friday, June 26, 2009

Oh, this is Rich

So have you heard the one about John Ashcroft getting $52 million to serve as "monitor" to a medical equipment company that received a deferred prosecution agreement (read: "get out of jail free card") from Ashcroft's buddy Christopher Christie, former United States Attorney for New Jersey? Oh, sure. The contract included a flat fee of $750,000 a month for 18 months, plus hourly billing and expenses. Better still, it was a no-bid contract, meaning when the company "accepted" the right to not be prosecuted, it pretty much had to settle on Christie's virtual appointment of Ashcroft as monitor, as part of the deal.

Still able to hold down your lunch, are you? Get this: when the company learned only after accepting the deal, the price of admission Ashcroft was charging to play ball, it protested through its counsel, Fulbright & Jaworski. At which point the US Attorney himself interceded and wrote to the company's counsel in a most paternalistic way " "I am very disappointed that this matter has not been resolved by your client. I am not convinced that this dispute is at the point where it cannot be resolved between your client and the Monitor."

Sunshine has now illuminated this little deal.

Currently, a House subcommittee hearing over the propriety of the no-bid contract is ongoing. The issue is such a black-eye for the justice department , that the Christie/Ashcroft deal caused it to change the process for how monitor contracts are awarded.

But, in the meantime, Ashcroft and his Boys remain pious and have refused to accept responsibility for what appears to many to be a shake-down and does not pass the smell test.

Ashcroft denied that his connection with Christie constituted a conflict of interest or even the appearance of impropriety. "No law that I know of has been violated," Ashcroft said.

You have to admit, this guy gives good depo.

Say what you want about John, but he is a true friend, always rising to defend his buddies, when some latina democrat gal has the audacity to question his authority to make unfettered decisions. At one point during the hearings, Ashcroft told Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif that "this hearing costs more money than any corporate monitorship.""Not a single cent of tax dollars is spent on deferred prosecution agreements," Ashcroft said. He later criticized her for "attacking" Christie, whom he called an accomplished prosecutor, and suggested that Sanchez's concerns about impropriety were so misplaced as to be discriminatory against former public officials.

Ah, the best defense is a good offense.

For his part, Christie apparently learned well at the feet of the Master, and is not going to take any lip from a bunch of politicos.

Christie said during the subcommittee hearing that controversy over the no-bid contract has been exaggerated by Democrats looking to derail his bid as a Republican running for New Jersey governor.

It's a conspiracy!

He's a victim!

And Christie apparently has had enough, taking his marbles and going home. Literally. The National Law Journal reports that Christie, telling lawmakers he had a train to catch, finally walked out of the hearing in frustration after two and a half hours. Democrats tried to get him to stay as television cameras followed him out.

Who the hell does that and gets away with it? Isn't he under subpoena?

"This is not a conflict of interest," Ashcroft said. "There is not an appearance of conflict."

Sympathy, my ass.

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