WASHINGTON (BP)–President-elect Bush’s nomination of former Sen. John Ashcroft to attorney general could mean the next administration plans more federal prosecutions of pornographers “after eight years of desert,” a former Florida pornography prosecutor said.
“I was very pleased to hear Senator Ashcroft got the job. He’s a strong Christian and a Reagan-conservative,” said Bill Kelly, a former FBI agent and obscenity prosecutor, reported the Internet news site CNSNews.com.
“It might be too soon to tell exactly what this means for the porn people, but depending on who gets to be chief of the Criminal Division and who gets to be chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Enforcement Unit — who will probably have as much influence on operations as the attorney general — this is definitely a step in the right direction,” Kelly said.
“We’ve had eight years of desert as far as our position is concerned. In 1997, we only had six porn prosecutions in the whole country; in 1998, we had eight. In Miami alone, I’d give them two or three every year myself,” Kelly said.
Promising that the Justice Department would be “guided by principle, not by politics,” Bush announced Ashcroft’s nomination Friday.
“He will be faithful to the law, pursuing justice without favor. He will enforce the law and follow the truth,” Bush said.
Ashcroft, 58, is a former governor and attorney general of Missouri. He was elected to the Senate in 1994, and served on the Judiciary Committee. He narrowly lost re-election to Jean Carnahan, the widow of Gov. Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash three weeks before Election Day.
Conservatives — and porn industry employees — expect the Bush administration will more rigorously enforce obscenity laws currently on the books than Attorney General Janet Reno and the Clinton administration.
Weeks before the election, prominent First Amendment lawyers advised “adult” entertainment executives meeting in New Orleans that they should vote for Vice President Al Gore.
“I’m telling you, if [Bush] gets elected, you guys better fasten your seat belts,” First Amendment lawyer Clyde DeWitt told a gathering of executives from mainstream technology firms, Web service providers and credit card processors attending IA2000, the world’s largest erotic Internet trade show in New Orleans in September.
DeWitt and other representatives of law firms specializing in free speech rights, whose clients include organized crime figures and prominent skin magazine publishers, told the audience that if Bush was elected to the White House in November, “adult” content providers would need more legal protection than ever.
The Gore camp declined the endorsement.
Morahan is a senior writer with CNSNews.com. Used by permission.