Ashcroft’s Gun Lobby Ties
During the 2000 elections, the National Rifle Association (NRA) claimed that if George Bush won the presidency, the NRA would be working out of his office. With John Ashcroft as Attorney General, the NRA is firmly entrenched in the Department of Justice.
John Ashcroft is undeniably sympathetic to the positions and policies of the NRA and the gun industry. In fact, according to an article in the January 25, 2001, Dallas Morning News, John Ashcroft is also a member of the NRA. In its “Election ‘94″ round-up, the NRA boasted, “Gun Owners Win Big!” and counted Ashcroft as one of the new senators NRA members had worked hard to elect. Last year, NRA chief lobbyist James Jay Baker stated that reelecting Ashcroft to the U.S. Senate was one of the organization’s top priorities. According to the May 10, 2000, issue of The Hill newspaper, Baker stated, “That is a clear good-guy bad-guy race from our stand point. We plan to do whatever it takes to make sure John Ashcroft retains that seat.”
John Ashcroft is the first Attorney General in recent history who has been the beneficiary of massive spending by a special interest group with a political agenda that is in direct conflict with the duties of the office. The NRA spent a combined total of $374,137 on behalf of Ashcroft in his failed 2000 Senate reelection bid. The NRA’s Political Action Committee contributed $9,900 directly to the Ashcroft campaign and spent $339,237 in independent expenditures on his Senate effort. The NRA also contributed $25,000 to the Ashcroft Victory Committee in March of 2000.
So how strongly does the NRA feel about John Ashcroft? According to the NRA’s web page, they “made it clear on Capitol Hill that a vote against Ashcroft’s confirmation would be seen as an anti-gun vote and would be communicated to NRA members as such.”
As a member of the National Rifle Association, Attorney General John Ashcroft supports an organization that has labeled federal law enforcement agents—including those of the Justice Department’s own Federal Bureau of Investigation—”jack-booted government thugs” and compared FBI agents to goose-stepping Nazis, asking, “What’s the first step to a police state? When the FBI states the rules.”
In response to this attack on federal law enforcement agents and officials, in 1995 former President George H. W. Bush resigned as a Life Member from the NRA, stating, “To attack Secret Service Agents or ATF people or any government law enforcement people as `wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms’ wanting to `attack law abiding citizens’ is a vicious slander on good people.”