Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., lobbyist and Democratic fundraiser, dies at 73

Thomas Hale Boggs Jr. built one of Washington's most influential and best-known lobbying firms.
(Brian K. Diggs / Associated Press)

Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., 73, a son of congressional representatives who evolved into a top-tier lobbyist and prolific Democratic fundraiser and embodied what it meant to have Washington clout, died Monday at his home in Chevy Chase, Md.

The cause has not been determined, but the family suspected a heart attack, said his brother-in-law, journalist Steve Roberts.

Boggs was a driving force in transforming the law firm now known as Squire Patton Boggs into one of Washington’s most influential and best-known lobbying powerhouses. A Washington lifer with an encyclopedic list of Democratic contacts, he was also known for constantly hosting fundraisers and relentlessly persuading friends and family to contribute to Democratic candidates.

It was that combination of making things happen inside the government and raising money for political insiders that over the decades propelled him to the upper ranks of the capital’s power-brokers.


So far this year, reports filed with the Senate indicate that he was representing a half-dozen clients, including and CITGO Petroleum Corp. His firm has reported $17.8 million in lobbying income this year, more than any other firm, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors lobbying.

Tommy, as he was known, was the son of Thomas Hale Boggs, who was House majority leader, and Lindy Boggs, who succeeded her husband as a representative after his plane crashed during a campaign trip to Alaska in 1972. Between them, the two Democrats represented Louisiana in the House for nearly half a century combined.

Involved in Democratic politics from an early age, Boggs did advance work for President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 campaign, according to his sister, journalist Cokie Roberts. He also worked as an economist for Congress’ Joint Economic Committee.

In 1970, Boggs tried entering the House on his own right, running for a seat in the capital’s Maryland suburbs as a Democrat. He was defeated by Republican incumbent Rep. Gilbert Gude.