NOVEMBER 21, 2007
The federal government’s chief law enforcement officer in New Jersey hand picked his former Justice Department boss, John Ashcroft, to receive $52 million to monitor a court settlement engineered by the very agency Ashcroft once headed.
New Jersey U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie chose Ashcroft’s Washington firm to keep an eye on implant makers accused of paying off doctors who agreed to use their product. Christie orchestrated a deal in which the government dropped the kickback probe of leading knee and hip replacement manufacturers in exchange for a $311 million settlement.
Now a big chunk of the money is going to Ashcroft, who was U.S. Attorney General from 2001 to 2005. Considered among the biggest payouts ever for a federal monitor, Ashcroft’s firm will actually collect $52.2 million for 18 months of work. A glimpse of the payment breakdown features a monthly fee of between $1.5 million and $2.9 million, a flat payment of $750,000 to the firm’s “senior leadership group,” individual consulting services of nearly $900 an hour and $250,000 in monthly expenses.
Christie, who vowed to clean up New Jersey’s rampant corruption when he took office in 2002, denied any conflict in giving his old boss such a lucrative deal. One columnist suggests it’s a good investment for Christie, who plans to run for governor in 2009, because Ashcroft could be a big help to him in raising money.
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