WASHINGTON — Ed Cox, a millionaire lawyer and son-in-law of President Nixon, spent about $1.1 million of his fortune for the privilege of not running against Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, records show.
Cox, who dropped out of the New York race last month but has left open the remote possibility of reentering it, hired high-priced GOP consultants connected to the Bush administration, White House political guru Karl Rove, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Gov. George E. Pataki.
That helped Cox develop a system to target voters in the state and begin a national anti-Clinton fundraising push. But he abandoned it because Pataki refused to endorse him against GOP primary opponent John Spencer, former Yonkers mayor, which made it harder to appeal to donors.
"This was seed money for a serious campaign," said a person close to the Manhattan attorney.
Cox reportedly has left open the possibility of reentering the campaign, but only if Pataki gets off the fence and lends his endorsement, sources say. Pataki pressured Cox to enter the race last year, only to throw his support behind Westchester Dist. Atty. Jeanine Pirro, who eventually quit the senatorial battle to run for state attorney general.
Year-end filings with the Federal Election Commission portray a candidate intent on establishing a first-class campaign operation in spite of a third-rate fundraising base.
In 2005, his campaign paid $172,995 to Rove's former direct-mail team, the Austin, Texas-based Olsen & Shuvalov, to test anti-Clinton themes and beat the bushes for donors. But the effort barely broke even, sources said.
Cox was forced to repeatedly dip into his own fortune, pumping as much as $150,000 a month into the campaign with no-interest loans and cash payments, campaign filings show.