- John AshcroftU.S. Attorney General (Retired)
Former U.S. Attorney General, Governor and U.S. Senator John Ashcroft serves as founder and Chairman of The Ashcroft Group and The Ashcroft Law Firm (together, the “Firm”). Together with the select group of seasoned, respected and experienced senior executives he recruited to join him – many of whom helped to lead the U.S. Department of Justice during a significant time in our nation’s history – the Firm has earned a reputation for integrity and a track record for accelerating successful resolutions of even the most complex matters. With a focus on issues of integrity and corporate governance, the Firm provides compliance advice, legal counsel and consulting services to world-leading clients, including Fortune 500 companies, multi-national corporations and corporate executives.
As Attorney General, and the U.S. Justice Department’s CEO, Mr. Ashcroft led the world’s largest and foremost international law firm and law enforcement agency-an organization larger than most Fortune 500 companies, with over 122,000 employees. Mr. Ashcroft integrated strategic planning, budgeting and performance measures, which resulted in the DOJ earning a clean audit for the first time in its history.
Mr. Ashcroft boldly led the Department of Justice through the transformational period after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He subsequently reorganized the Department to focus on its number one priority: preventing terrorism. The tough antiterrorism campaign he directed helped keep America safe throughout his tenure and resulted in the dismantling of terrorist cells across America and the disruption of over 150 terrorist plots worldwide.
Within two months of the attacks, and with financial markets still reeling, the unprecedented corporate scandals at ENRON, WorldCom and dozens more unfolded, further destabilizing the weakened economy. John Ashcroft was called upon to restore America’s faith in the integrity of our marketplace. He marshaled the resources of the federal government to bring to justice those guilty of massive corporate fraud. At all times, he demanded that cases be brought swiftly, with appropriate serious penalties-always taking into account the best interests of the employees and shareholders whose lives were most directly affected.
From 1985 to 1993, as Governor of Missouri, Ashcroft balanced eight consecutive budgets, built a $120 million budget surplus and established a $190 million operating reserve. His management and fiscal integrity helped generate 338,000 new jobs state-wide, a triple-A bond rating from the three major Wall Street rating agencies, a per capita state and local tax burden ranked 49th in the United States and a 12 percent increase in personal income. His new education performance standards led Fortune magazine to name him as one of the nation’s top ten Education Governors. In 1991, the non-partisan National Governors Association voted him Chairman.
Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994, he brought his management skills to Washington where he authored budget rules protecting Social Security and Medicare and helped balance the federal budget for the first time in decades. As a member of the Senate Judiciary, Foreign Relations and Commerce Committees, he worked to reform laws regulating the banking, telecommunications, aviation, transportation and information technology industries.
In 1973, Mr. Ashcroft served as Missouri Auditor, followed by two terms as Missouri Attorney General. He was raised in Springfield, Missouri, received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago.
- U.S. Rep. Ron EstesKansas Treasurer 2011-2017
Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and serves Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Prior to becoming an elected official, Estes worked in consulting and management roles in several different industries including aerospace, energy and manufacturing. An engineer by trade, he successfully implemented a variety of systems that streamlined operations, increased efficiency and improved customer relations – all while cutting cost. Estes served as Sedgwick County (Kansas) Treasurer and then Kansas State Treasurer before being elected to Congress on April 11, 2017.
Ron and his wife, Susan, have three children and reside in Wichita.
- Jonathan WilliamsChief Economist and VP, ALEC
Jonathan Williams is the Chief Economist and Vice President for the Center for State Fiscal Reform at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where he works with state policymakers, congressional leaders and members of the private sector to develop fiscal policy solutions for the states. Williams also co-authors Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer Economic State Competitiveness Index with Reagan economist Dr. Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore. Prior to joining ALEC, Williams served as staff economist at the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, authoring numerous tax policy studies.
Williams’s work has appeared in many publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Investor’s Business Daily. He is a contributing columnist to Tax Analysts, the leading provider of tax news and analysis for the global community. He has written for the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In addition, Williams was a contributing author of In Defense of Capitalism (Northwood University Press).
Williams has testified before numerous legislative bodies and spoken to audiences across America. He is frequent guest on talk radio shows and has appeared on numerous television outlets, including the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Fox Business News and Bloomberg News. Williams was also the recipient of the prestigious Ludwig von Mises Award in Economics.
Williams has visited all 50 states and regularly travels more than 100,000 miles a year. While on the road, he is a connoisseur of local and regional food across the state capitals.