The Case Against the Confirmation of John Ashcroft As Attorney General of the United States: Part II

Tapping friends, contributors for state judgeships

While Governor of Missouri, particularly during his first term, Ashcroft was criticized for favoring political friends and campaign contributors in making judicial and executive appointments. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 20-21, 1988; UPI, July 16, 1985. For instance, in 1988, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a survey showing that 12 of Ashcroft’s first 24 judicial appointees - or their spouses - had contributed to his gubernatorial campaign. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 20, 1988. In addition, according to the Post, in nine of those twelve cases, the person given the judicial appointment by Ashcroft was the only one of the three finalists chosen by the judicial commissions who had contributed to the governor. Id.

Although comparable statistics were not available for later years, we did track this question throughout Ashcroft’s tenure with respect to one of his most important sets of appointments: to the Missouri Supreme Court. Governor Ashcroft had the opportunity to appoint all members of the seven-person Supreme Court. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aug. 8, 1992; Kansas City Star, Aug. 8, 1992. Five of the seven individuals who received appointments were either close personal friends, subordinates, or political or financial supporters.

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