WASHINGTON--White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is retaining his $1.76 million political warchest, I've been told, with Emanuel keeping his options open for a return to an elected position some time in the future.
"The account will obviously remain dormant during the time that former Congressman Emanuel is serving as President Obama's Chief of Staff," Emanuel spokesman Sarah Feinberg told me. "No decisions have been made about what will be done with the account or the funds in the account in the future."
Emanuel gave up his House seat to join the Obama administration. The primary to fill the fifth congressional district vacancy is March 3, and a back story to the contest is whether Emanuel may return in a few years to reclaim the seat.
Emanuel had been on track to be Speaker of the House when Obama asked him to be his chief of staff. Although the Constitution of the United States does not require the Speaker to be an elected House member, every Speaker in the nation's history has been a member.
Emanuel, one of the nation's top political fund-raisers, for himself and others, had $1,766,410.08 cash on hand in his main political fund, according to a report "Friends of Rahm Emanuel" filed on Jan. 31 with the Federal Election Commission. Emanuel loaned his committee $463,562.94 and could at some point be repaid from the funds.
Emanuel also has $13,574 in his "Our Common Values" political action committee. Feinberg told me that PAC is in the process of shutting down and the April quarterly report is likely to be the last one filed.
On Feb. 1 I moderated a fifth congressional district Democratic candidate forum at DePaul University in Lincoln Park and asked if any of the contenders had discussed with Emanuel being a place holder for him.
State Rep. John Fritchey, (D-Chicago) said he spoke with Emanuel a few months ago when he was deciding whether to run for Emanuel's seat.
"He had commented to me that he may be interested in running one day again for the seat," Fritchey said.