Oxley to Announce Retirement

Posted October 31, 2005 at 6:34pm

House Financial Services Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) plans to announce that he will not seek re-election at the end of the 109th Congress, according to Republican sources on and off Capitol Hill.

The announcement could happen as soon as today, when Oxley is scheduled to hold three different events in Ohio “on issues in Washington and Ohio that affect constituents in the Fourth District,” according to his Web site. The first event will be at 8 a.m. central time in his hometown of Findlay, and the third event is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m., when the House will be in session and voting.

Oxley’s aides did not return repeated calls to either his personal office or the Financial Services Committee on Monday, but multiple sources confirmed that the 61-year-old Ohioan plans to make this term — his 13th in the House — his last.

As of press time, Oxley had apparently not officially informed the Republican leadership of his plans, but one leadership source said he had sent word of his pending announcement “through surrogates.”

Oxley’s position as a top Congressional regulator of the financial services industry, combined with his popularity both on and off Capitol Hill, could fetch him a multimillion-dollar job in the private sector, several Wall Street lobbyists said.

“He’d be a brilliant head of a trade association,” said Penny Rostow, a banking lobbyist at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal.

While Oxley — the co-author of 2002’s landmark Sarbanes-Oxley corporate accountability bill — is sure to be flooded with offers, one Republican lobbyist speculated that it could be a year before Oxley’s post-retirement plans take shape.

“My guess is, given all the scrutiny, he’ll be smart about it and wait until next November to begin negotiating,” the lobbyist said.

Because of the Republican Conference’s rules on term limits for committee chairmen, Oxley would have to give up his Financial Services gavel at the end of this Congress, regardless of whether he ran for re-election — and he would not be in line to pursue any other gavels at that point.

The race to succeed him at Financial Services was already under way, with GOP Reps. Spencer Bachus (Ala.) and Richard Baker (La.) seen within the Conference as having the best shots at the post. Other potential candidates include Republican Reps. David Dreier (Calif.) and Deborah Pryce (Ohio).

In Ohio, meanwhile, very few names have been publicly mentioned so far as possible candidates to succeed Oxley in the 4th district.

Oxley was first elected to the central Ohio seat in 1981, winning a special election by a narrow 378-vote margin.

Oxley’s district, which includes Lima, Mansfield and his hometown of Findlay, has been reliably Republican territory since the Civil War.

In the 2004 presidential election, President Bush carried the district with 65 percent of the vote — the largest margin he garnered in any of the state’s 18 Congressional districts.

Republicans should have little trouble holding the seat, despite the current woes of the Ohio GOP and the scandal-tarred administration of outgoing Gov. Bob Taft (R). Those scandals have energized state Democrats, who have been locked out of power for more than a decade.

Earlier this year, now-Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) won a special election contest with just 52 percent of the vote in a district that voted 64 percent for Bush in 2004.

A number of GOP state legislators are considered likely to weigh a run.

Among the possible Democrats mentioned are former Hill aide Ben Konop, who ran in 2004 and held Oxley to the lowest re-election percentage of his career, as well as state Rep. Bill Hartnett and Lima Mayor David Berger.

Tory Newmyer contributed to this report.