Early on in Waxman's job hunt, his son had floated the possibility that they might team up. In the past, Waxman Strategies had run P.R. campaigns for a disabled veterans' group and an immigration resource center—the kinds of projects the elder Waxman could see himself getting behind. In February, Waxman announced that he had taken his son up on the offer. Waxman's personal clients, he says, are "the same causes that I advocated for when I was in Congress." Those include 340B Health, a membership organization for hospitals that serve low-income people (through the 340B drug discount program that Waxman wrote); the environmental group Climate Advisers; and "Save Wireless Choice," a campaign launched by a coalition including T-Mobile and Sprint to reserve more bandwidth for companies that aren't AT&T or Verizon. "It's a good fit, because I'm not under a lot of pressure to just represent people and bring in money," Waxman says. "Some…" he turns laughingly to Michael, "but not a lot."
"Even here, I wasn't sure I would lobby," Waxman says. But now, he sounds almost certain that, at the end of the one-year "cooling-off period" to which retiring lawmakers are subject, he will register as a lobbyist. "I don't think of myself as a traditional lobbyist, taking whatever clients come in the door," he says, but, "a lobbyist is an advocate, like a lawyer is an advocate. … If I wanted to advocate for a client, I want to do everything I can for them. … And if it means that I go to the administration, or to Congress, or elsewhere, I want that to be disclosed. I'd be proud of it."
Waxman's critics aren't necessarily convinced. "Even if you may start out thinking, 'I'm only going to work for clients who I like,' you've already made the step that money is really the No. 1 factor"—or, at the very least, a factor—in the work you'll accept, says [Public Citizen's Craig] Holman. "Those clients will pay a great deal for Henry Waxman." And yet, if Waxman's journey is any illustration, money isn't the only force funneling lawmakers into lobbying. When their days on Capitol Hill are done, former members must ask themselves what they're best prepared to do next. Are they to blame if the answer lies on the other side of the revolving door?When he was in Congress, Waxman vehemently denounced the revolving door:
Energy and Commerce chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), however, said that the report shows that the most valuable thing most lobbyists have to offer is a specific relationship. He said the report's premise rang true -- but he boasted that there aren't too many K Streeters who'd be sad to see him leave the Hill. "It reminds me of how grateful I am that so many of the staff that I've had over the years stayed in public interest work. I can't think of more than one or two that ever went into lobbying," Waxman said. "I know for a fact that some lobbyists are hired because of the relationship with a particular member." -- Huffington Post, September 24, 2010
A senior White House official accused of doctoring government reports on climate change to play down the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming has taken a job with ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company. ... "At a minimum it creates a terrible appearance," said Henry Waxman, a Democratic Congressman who sits on the committee for government reform. "This is one of the fastest revolving doors I have seen." -- The Guardian, June 15, 2005
Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat who has focused on health policy for 30 years, did not question the legality of Mr. Tauzin's move. But Mr. Waxman said: "The appearance is terrible. A chief architect of the Medicare prescription drug legislation is now going to represent the chief beneficiary of the bill. This will only reinforce the public's disillusionment with Congress." -- New York Times, December 16, 2004, on Billy Tauzin's decision to lead a pharmaceutical lobby