Rep. Henry Waxman may be retiring, but a blitz of fourth-quarter fundraising ensures that he'll leave office atop a pile of campaign cash.
In the last quarter of 2013, Waxman outpaced more than 90 percent of his House colleagues as he raised $371,347. It was the California Democrat's biggest fundraising quarter of the year, and it left him with $757,269 in the bank.
Now that he's leaving Congress, Waxman won't have to spend any of that money on campaigning. Instead, he is free to use the account as a political piggy bank to dole out campaign contributions to friends and allies on Capitol Hill after he leaves office.
Such an account could prove especially useful if Waxman, 74, decamps to K Street, as so many of his predecessors have, where his former colleagues will almost certainly dial him up for donations.
There is nothing illegal about Waxman vacuuming up campaign contributions before heading for the exit. He follows in the footsteps of many others, most notably former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, who left office in 2010 with a $10 million campaign treasury.
After 40 years in Congress, in which Waxman has been one of the most effective liberal legislators of the modern era, he is not independently wealthy. He ranked as the 187th richest lawmaker in the House in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with a net worth between $667,000 and $1.7 million.
Waxman has not said exactly when he decided to retire, and his office did not return a call for comment Wednesday. Among his fourth-quarter donors were billionaire media mogul Haim Saban and his wife ($10,400), former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner ($5,200), investor Marc Nathanson ($5,200) and businesswoman Lynda Resnick ($5,200). Waxman also tapped political action committees of Boeing, Univision, Blue Shield, Verizon, and the Service Employees International Union, among others, for $5,000 apiece.
His fourth-quarter haul—only two dozen or so House members raised more—wasn't just his biggest of 2013, it was nearly as much as his total in all of 2011, his last nonelection year, when he collected $388,990 (of which $199, 242 was in the fourth quarter). Waxman's 2012 election, in which he was challenged by a wealthy independent opponent, was his toughest fight in decades.
Waxman told the Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus that not having to ask for money anymore would be one of the benefits of retirement.
"Now I don't have to spend any time raising money," he said. McManus reported Waxman said so with a broad grin.
This article appears in the February 6, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.