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Mr. Huffington Goes to Washington

Billionaire Republican Congressman, heir to the HUFFCO Energy fortune, husband of Arianna Huffington (Greek-born founder of the Huffington Post), and today a Hollywood film producer, this was a guy that you would not forget.

Tall, thin, and good looking, Michael Huffington was in the first year of his one and only term in Congress when I showed him the National Archives rotunda and our treasure vaults in 1993. He came to Washington as an intern to Congressman George H. W. Bush in 1968, was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense after his father helped fund the Reagan campaign. He then ran for and won a seat in Congress. He was only there for one term when he decided that the Senate was the place for him. He ran and lost to Dianne Feinstein and never held public office again.

Michael and Arianna were divorced in 1997, and in 1998 Michael announced that he was bisexual. He became a major advocate and financier of the LGBT community and has gone on to become a second-tier film producer in Hollywood.

He came to the Archives by himself on that morning in 1993, an unusual profile for any congressman. Usually accompanied by at least one aide and often followed by an entourage of staff, spouse and friends, these folks do not travel alone. But in every way, Michael Huffington was different.

Soft spoken and confident, he wore a Savile Row business suit that probably cost more than my entire wardrobe at the time. He clearly knew his American history, asked great questions, and was quietly observant of every detail.

It was one line of conversation that I’ll never forget. This guy had been sworn into Congress two months before I met him. He was a comer but was brand new. He was a baby Congressman in his first term.

But he was talking about his papers…his legacy.

He told me that he was building a 47,000 square foot library at his high school alma mater, Culver Military Academy in Indiana. He had contracted Michael Verity, the master carver of St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City, to do the stonework for the library. His parents, who were then residents of Houston, Texas, were providing the funding. The library would house The Congressman Michael Huffington Papers. (In his third month of being a congressman).

I have always remembered Michael as the vision of young entitlement and confidence. 46 years old, a graduate of Stanford, and Harvard Business School, heir to a billion-dollar fortune, the US Congress was going to be a brief stop on the way to the White House. Diane Feinstein, Arianna Huffington, his own sexuality, and fate had other ideas for Michael.

But on that day in 1993, he had the bit in his mouth, was at the starting gate, and ready to go.

1 Comment

Patricia Kitto
Patricia Kitto
Jun 25

😳 Did the library get built and if so, were any of his papers deposited there?

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