Billy Tauzin

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Billy Tauzin
Billy tauzin.jpg
President & CEO of PhRMA
In office
January, 2005 – August, 2010
Preceded by Alan Holmer
Succeeded by John J. Castellani
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 3rd district
In office
May 22, 1980 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by David Treen
Succeeded by Charlie Melancon
Personal details
Born Wilbert Joseph Tauzin II
(1943-06-14) June 14, 1943 (age 71)
Chackbay, Louisiana, U.S.
Political party Democratic (1972–1995)
Republican (1995–present)
Spouse(s) (1) Gayle Clement Tauzin

(2) Cecile Bergeron

Profession Politician, Lawyer, Lobbyist
Religion Roman Catholic

Wilbert Joseph "Billy" Tauzin II (/ˈbɪli ˈtzɪn/; born June 14, 1943) is an American lobbyist and politician. He was President and CEO of PhRMA, a pharmaceutical company lobby group. He was also a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1980 to 2005, representing Louisiana's 3rd congressional district.

Personal life[edit]

Of Cajun descent, he is a lifelong resident of Chackbay, a small town just outside Thibodaux, Tauzin graduated from Nicholls State University in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and earned a law degree from Louisiana State University in 1967. While attending law school, he served as a legislative aide in the Louisiana state Senate.

He is married to Cecile Tauzin and has five children by a previous marriage.

Political career[edit]

Tauzin began his elective career in 1972, when he was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives and served four full terms as a Democrat. In his first term, he served alongside fellow Democrats Dick Guidry and Leonard J. Chabert. In 1979, David C. Treen, U.S. Representative from Louisiana's 3rd congressional district, the first Republican congressman from Louisiana since Reconstruction, was elected as the state's first Republican governor in more than a century. Treen resigned his House seat on March 10, 1980. Tauzin won a special election for the seat on May 17 and was sworn into office on May 22, just five months after winning a fifth term in the state house. He won the congressional race by seven points. Tauzin defeated Democratic State Senator Anthony Guarisco, Jr., of Morgan City and another Democrat-turned-Republican: Jim Donelon of Jefferson Parish. Tauzin then won a full term in November 1980, with 85 percent of the vote against minimal opposition.

For fifteen years, Tauzin was one of the more conservative Democrats in the United States House of Representatives. Even though he eventually rose to become an assistant majority whip, he felt shut out by some of his more liberal colleagues and sometimes had to ask the Republicans for floor time. When the Democrats lost control of the House after the 1994 elections, Tauzin was one of the cofounders of the House Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate-to-conservative Democrats.

In 1987, Tauzin ran unsuccessfully for governor of Louisiana, but victory went to another colleague in the U.S. House, Buddy Roemer, as incumbent Edwin Edwards, with a weakened second-place showing, withdrew from a runoff election. Others in the race were Republican Representative Bob Livingston of the New Orleans suburbs and two other Democrats, former U.S. Representative Speedy Long, and Louisiana Secretary of State James H. "Jim" Brown.

However, on August 8, 1995, Tauzin himself became a Republican and claimed that conservatives were no longer welcome in the Democratic Party. He soon became a Deputy majority whip, becoming the first Congressman to have been part of the leadership of both parties in the House. Regardless of party, Tauzin remained popular at home. After 1980, he was reelected twelve more times without major-party opposition; the first nine of those completely unopposed.

Tauzin served as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee from 2001 until February 4, 2004 when he announced he wouldn't run for a 13th full term. Tauzin, who has five children by his first marriage, heavily backed his son, Billy Tauzin III, as his replacement, even going so far as to appear in ads that were criticized as blurring the lines on which man was actually running for Congress. In spite of his father's support, the younger Tauzin was defeated by 569 votes by Democrat Charlie Melancon.

During his tenure, he left his mark on issues ranging from natural gas, airline, trucking and electricity deregulation to the Clean Air Act, Superfund and the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In addition, he was an original author of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act and the Cable Act – bills which went on to become law despite a Presidential veto.

In 2003, he was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield[1]

Controversies[edit]

Tauzin endorsed Jerome Schneider's book "The Complete Guide to Offshore Money Havens," dubbing the book "A serious contender for the best book on offshore banking I've ever seen."[2] Tauzin also spoke at one of Schneider's tax conferences.[3] After Schneider pled guilty in 2004 to assisting hundreds of people to avoid taxes through sham offshore banks,[3][4] a spokesperson for Tauzin called his endorsement "a stupid mistake."[3]

Career as a lobbyist[edit]

While recovering from a fight with cancer, Tauzin resigned from Congress and began work as the head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, a powerful trade group for pharmaceutical companies. Five years later he announced his retirement from the association (as of the end of June 2010).[5]

Two months before resigning as chair of the committee which oversees the drug industry, Tauzin had played a key role in shepherding through Congress the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, a bill which had been criticized by opponents for being too generous to the pharmaceutical industry. The switch from regulator to lobbyist was widely noted.[6]

This link was explored at great length in an April 1, 2007 interview by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes. The report, Under the Influence, pitted Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) against Tauzin and accused him of using unethical tactics to push a bill that "the pharmaceutical lobbyists wrote". Along with Tauzin, many of the other individuals who worked on the bill are now lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry. Michael Moore's 2007 film Sicko levied similar criticism.[7]

As head of PhRMA, Tauzin was a key player in 2009 health care reform negotiations that produced pharmaceutical industry support for White House and Senate efforts.[8] Reportedly, proposals for Medicare Part D cost reductions and permitting drug importation from Canada were dropped in favor of $80 billion in other savings.

Tauzin received $11.6 million from PhRMA in 2010, making him the highest-paid health-law lobbyist.[9]

Tauzin now is on the Board of Directors at Louisiana Healthcare Group.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame". cityofwinnfield.com. Retrieved August 22, 2009. 
  2. ^ "The Complete Guide to Offshore Money Havens, Revised and Updated 4th Edition: How to Make Millions, Protect Your Privacy, and Legally Avoid Taxes [Hardcover]". (book description). Amazon.com. Retrieved November 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Johnston, David Cay (November 18, 2004). "Pioneer of Sham Tax Havens Sits Down for a Pre-Jail Chat". New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Quatlosers Hall of Shame – Jerome Schneider". Financial & Tax Fraud Education Associates, Inc. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  5. ^ Eggen, Dan (February 12, 2010). "Billy Tauzin, key player in health-care push, leaving PhRMA". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  6. ^ Welch, William M. (December 15, 2004). "Tauzin switches sides from drug industry overseer to lobbyist". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  7. ^ "SICKO: Checkup on the Facts". , sickothemovie.com
  8. ^ McCaughan, Michael (March 23, 2010). "Health Care Reform A Done Deal: Pharma Bets On The Right Horse". [1]. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  9. ^ "Tauzin's $11.6 million made him highest-paid health-law lobbyist". Bloomberg. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
David C. Treen
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 3rd congressional district

1980–2005
Succeeded by
Charlie Melancon
Political offices
Preceded by
Tom Bliley
Virginia
Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
2001–2004
Succeeded by
Joe Barton
Texas