Donald V. Watkins, an Alabama banker and political activist, says that he’d been fed up with the Senate confirmation process for some time, but that the flurry of criticism surrounding the nomination of John Ashcroft as attorney general was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Mr. Watkins was so incensed that he bought a half page in the A section of Wednesday’s Washington Post to print a letter asking the Senate to confirm Mr. Ashcroft — whom he does not know — and “restore civility and dignity” to the confirmation process.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Mr. Watkins said the process “has severely deteriorated … and I thought it was the right thing to do to step forward as an individual and try to bring the political crucifixion to a halt.”

He wrote in the letter that Mr. Ashcroft would enforce the law fairly and equally, and that his opposition to the nomination of Missouri Justice Ronnie White to the federal bench had not been racially motivated. Mr. Watkins and Justice White are both African-American.

Though the message cost Mr. Watkins about $43,000, he said it was a small price to pay if he could make a difference.

“I had the ability and means to speak my message in The Washington Post,” said Mr. Watkins, the chairman and founder of $13 million-asset Alamerica Bank in Birmingham. “If I was being crucified like John Ashcroft, I would hope someone would do the same for me.”

He said that though the letter was printed under the bank’s logo, it expressed his own views — and had not been solicited by any political party.

Mr. Watkins, who describes himself as a political independent, is a lawyer who has represented the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He launched Alamerica last year.

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