How Chaffetz could get rich on K Street
If Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) wants it, he could find a lucrative career in lobbying, Washington headhunters tell The Hill.
Chaffetz, the House Oversight Committee chairman who announced on Wednesday that he would be retiring at the end of this Congress, is one of the best known GOP lawmakers in the House.
Many think he may eye another public office down the line, but headhunters say he could easily earn upward of $1 million per year if he fully cashes in on his experience.
“He will be a good rainmaker for K Street. If you go beyond his investigations and oversight, he’s on the [House] Judiciary Committee, and they deal with substantial money issues — and I think that makes him attractive,” said Ivan Adler, a principal at the McCormick Group, an executive search firm.
Chaffetz had a minimum net worth of about $308,000 in 2015, according to financial disclosures filed last year. His worth is boosted primarily by his home in Utah, worth between $250,000 and $500,000, which he lists as an asset.
On Judiciary, Chaffetz serves on two subcommittees that deal with intellectual property and competition, and crime and terrorism.
In an interview with Politico on Thursday, he said that he has been “poking around to see what I might be worth and what sort of possibilities are there.”
“I don’t know exactly where these winds are going to take me,” Chaffetz told Politico, saying he wasn’t closing the door to running for office down the line. “I just know that I wanted to explore those.”
“And by making the announcement early, it helps on several fronts. I can pursue those opportunities and see what is out there,” he added.
Chaffetz has signaled an interest in the private sector, floating serving on corporate boards and partnering with a television network as potential options.
“Unless there’s some back-story that would damage his marketability… he would be attractive” to both boards and law and lobby firms, said Julian Ha, of Heidrick & Struggles, who specializes in hiring lobbyists for corporations and trade associations.
Should Chaffetz join a Fortune 500 board, he could earn from $150,000 to $250,000 in base pay, with another $100,000 or so in stock options, Ha says.
But those gigs can be hard to come by, and Adler predicts he could end up on one or more boards of a smaller company — which will pay much less. Joining any more than three boards, though, can be a strain on time, he adds.
“A typical post-Congress life might involve him juggling a couple different things. He’ll need a [law or lobby] firm to serve as a platform,” Adler said. That, “combined with some media work and boards, will give him the lifestyle he wants.”
Joining a firm could earn Chaffetz — who makes frequent appearances on cable networks and a recognizable face in Washington — up to $1 million, and in some cases even more, multiple people told The Hill.
Tack on board fees and acting as a contributor to a major cable network, for which he could draw another salary in the low six-figures, and he could easily make ten times his congressional salary.
If Chaffetz joins a K Street firm, he would be subject to a one-year “cooling off” period that prohibits him from lobbying his former congressional colleagues. Many former members who go to firms serve as “advisers” that give advice to clients without doing the shoe-leather lobbying. Chaffetz would be free, though, to lobby the executive branch immediately after leaving Capitol Hill.
Prior to joining Congress, Chaffetz did public relations for Nu Skin Enterprises, a multi-level marketing company that makes and sells personal care products and dietary supplements. He received $58,500 from employees and the political action committee (PAC) for Nu Skin Enterprises during the two-year 2016 election cycle
His experience on the House Judiciary Committee — and sub-panels that handle Internet and intellectual property-related issues — could also prove helpful in the private sector.
Google, Amazon and AT&T are among the top corporate PAC donors to his campaign and leadership fundraising committees during the 2016 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Employees for Amazon contributed another $39,900.
The PACs of Home Depot, the National Beer Wholesalers Association, UPS and the International Council of Shopping Centers also wrote large checks.