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David Aufhauser relishes the legacy of his new office at the Department of Treasury. Once occupied by Treasury Secretary Salmon Portland Chase, who was responsible for mandating the use of paper currency during the Civil War, the suite has been restored to its 1860s glory and furnished with period antiques. It is an imposing office where one feels the power of the federal government. For Aufhauser, 50, who spent his entire legal career at Washington, D.C.’s very private Williams & Connolly before being named general counsel of Treasury, moving to the public sector has taken a little getting used to. “In private practice, there is nothing more important than keeping the confidences of your client. My instinct and training has always been to save arguments for the courtroom,” Aufhauser explains. “In government, sometimes the issues you are looking at are public in nature and naturally part of the public debate.” Aufhauser was born in New York City in 1950. He attended Wesleyan University and at 23 earned an MBA from Harvard University. But after accepting a job on Wall Street, Aufhauser had second thoughts about his chosen field and decided to try law school. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1977. With a business degree, Aufhauser was a natural candidate for one of New York’s big corporate law firms, but he still did not see himself as suited to Wall Street. Instead, Aufhauser wrote a letter pitching his services to legendary trial lawyer Edward Bennett Williams, founder of Williams & Connolly. At the time, Aufhauser recalls, the approximately 30-lawyer firm was looking to expand from its hard-nosed criminal defense focus into white-collar defense work. Williams decided to take a chance on the young lawyer with business training. Aufhauser spent the next 23 years at Williams & Connolly, where he served on the firm’s executive committee in 1998 and 1999. Aufhauser’s corporate clients included Lockheed Martin, MicroStrategy Inc. and Norwegian Cruise Lines. According to a disclosure report filed with the Office of Government Ethics, he made approximately $920,000 from the firm in 2000. Though this is Aufhauser’s first tour of duty as a government insider, he has long been active in Republican politics. In 1985, Aufhauser successfully defended a former Navy official against conflict of interest charges and developed a niche practice in government ethics law. When the elder George Bush made ethics a major theme of his first presidential campaign, Aufhauser was tapped as a key adviser. He volunteered for the Republican National Convention in 1992 and 1996 and served as an outside adviser to the Republican House Leadership in 1993 and 1994. Last year, in the wake of the close presidential election in Florida, Aufhauser flew to Tallahassee to monitor the counting of overseas ballots for the Republican team. “He’s wonderful to work with,” says Patton Boggs partner Benjamin Ginsberg, who served as general counsel to President George W. Bush’s election campaign. “He’s very even in the way he approaches and analyzes a situation. His judgment is a prized commodity.” Aufhauser was also tapped to defend the Bush-Cheney campaign in an election-related suit filed Nov. 11, which sought to invalidate Texas’ 32 electoral votes on the grounds that both Bush and Cheney were legal residents of the state. (The 12th Amendment bars electors from giving their votes to two residents of their own state.) The case was unsuccessful. Reportedly, it was Cheney who pushed Aufhauser for the Treasury GC post, believing that he would work well with Secretary Paul O’Neil. According to Aufhauser, he was offered the job at the end of his first interview. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., blocked Aufhauser’s confirmation and those of three other Treasury nominees, using them as leverage in a dispute over trade issues impacting his state’s textile industry. “I wasn’t surprised,” Aufhauser jokes. “I’ve lived in this town long enough.” Despite Aufhauser’s strong GOP credentials, friends and colleagues say he is not an ideologue. “He’s a very bright attorney of the highest integrity,” says Williams & Connolly partner Howard Gutman, an active Democrat and longtime friend. Aufhauser lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and three children, ages 11, 14, and 16.

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