Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration: Who Is Rich Ashooh?

Friday, June 16, 2017
Richard Ashooh (photo: UNH Law)

Richard Ashooh, a longtime lobbyist and Republican politician, was nominated on May 19, 2017, by President Donald Trump to lead the Bureau of Industry and Security, which administers the export of dual-use products that can be used both for civilian and military purposes, as well as software and technology.


Ashooh was born Jun 2, 1964, in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was one of seven children of Emile and Louise Ashooh, and the grandson of Lebanese immigrants. Ashooh attended Trinity High School in Manchester and went on to the University of New Hampshire (UNH). He met the woman who would become his wife, Lori, while both were on the UNH rowing team. Ashooh graduated in 1986 with a B.A. in communications and political science. While still a student, he worked answering constituent mail in the office of Sen. Gordon Humphrey (R).


Ashooh went to work soon after graduation as a staffer for Sen. Warren Rudman (R-New Hampshire). He also worked as a staff member for the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Ashooh returned to New Hampshire in 1993 to lead the New Hampshire chapter of The Concord Coalition, a nonprofit group focused on reduction of the national debt.


In 1995, Ashooh joined New Hampshire defense contractor Sanders, which manufactured electronics for the military, working his way up to be vice president of government relations—a lobbyist. Sanders was purchased by Lockheed, which later spun it off to BAE Systems, with Ashooh remaining with the company. In 2001, he was director of public affairs in BAE Systems North America’s Information and Electronic Warfare Systems division. In January 2003, he moved from New Hampshire to Maryland as BAE’s vice president of legislative affairs to take advantage of his lobbying experience. Back in New Hampshire, he was the company’s vice president of strategic relations and homeland security.


Meanwhile, he was also regional vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers Public Affairs Steering Committee, and he served on the board of governors or trustees of N.H. Public Television, the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium Commission, the N.H. Governor's Task Force on Educational Adequacy, Franklin Pierce University, the Catholic Medical Center and the University System of New Hampshire. He was also chair of the board of trustees of the New Hampshire Political Library at Saint Anselm College.


In 2004, Ashooh was a member of the New Hampshire steering committee for the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign. In 2006, he became chair of the newly-formed New Hampshire Business Political Action Committee (PAC).


Ashooh in 2010 took a leave of absence from BAE to run for the Republican nomination for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st District, but he finished second to Frank Guinta. As a candidate, he called for the repeal of Obamacare and balancing the budget by eliminating funding for any federal entity that competed with private industry. He stated that energy should be “in the hands of the private sector.” Also that year, Ashooh was named BAE’s director of strategy.


He left BAE in September 2015 to spend six months as interim executive director of The Warren B. Rudman Center at UNH’s School of Law. The center focuses on public service legal careers. By this time, he was also chairman of The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy.


Ashooh ran for Congress again in 2016. This time, in the Republican primary, he was more vague about the specifics of solving problems than he had been six years earlier and spent more time attacking Guinta, who was now the incumbent. Ashooh lost again, although this time by a mere 649 votes. Guinta eventually lost in the general election to Democrat Carol Shea-Porter. Ashooh then was named director of economic partnerships at the University System of New Hampshire.


Ashooh and his wife have five children: Sofie, Emma, Elias, Maya and Sam.

-Steve Straehley, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Ashooh Tapped by Trump to Serve as Assistant Commerce, Export Administration Secretary (by John DiStaso, WMUR)

Can a Lobbyist Be Elected to Congress This Year? (by Fergus Cullen, Manchester Union Leader)

BAE Systems Names Rich Ashooh Sector VP, Strategic Relations and Homeland Security (Business Wire)

Official Announcement


Nick 6 years ago
Finally, someone of quality and integrity going to Washington.

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