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Steven Palazzo

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Steven Palazzo
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 4th district
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2023
Preceded byGene Taylor
Succeeded byMike Ezell
Member of the Mississippi House of Representatives
from the 116th district
In office
December 14, 2006 – January 3, 2011
Preceded byLeonard Bentz
Succeeded byCasey Eure
Personal details
Born (1970-02-21) February 21, 1970 (age 54)
Gulfport, Mississippi, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Lisa Belvin
(m. 1996; div. 2016)
EducationUniversity of Southern Mississippi (BA, MPA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Marine Corps
 United States Army
Years of service1989–1996 (Reserve)
1997–present (National Guard)
UnitUnited States Marine Corps Reserve
Mississippi Army National Guard
Battles/warsGulf War

Steven McCarty Palazzo (/pəˈlɑːz/ pə-LAH-zoh; born February 21, 1970) is an American politician who served as the U.S. representative for Mississippi's 4th congressional district from 2011 to 2023. The district included Mississippi's Gulf Coast, Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, Laurel and Hattiesburg. Palazzo is a member of the Republican Party.

Palazzo defeated 10-term Democratic incumbent Gene Taylor, 52%-47%, in 2010. He represented District 116 in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 2006 to 2011. Palazzo lost renomination to Mike Ezell in the June 28, 2022, Republican primary.

Early life, education, and military service[edit]

Palazzo was born on February 21, 1970, in Gulfport.[1] He graduated from Saint John High School in 1988.[2]

Palazzo enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1988, and served with the 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company in the Persian Gulf War. He now serves in the Mississippi Army National Guard.[3] He received a Bachelor's of business administration and MPA in public accountancy from the University of Southern Mississippi, and is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He is a Certified Public Accountant.[citation needed][4]

Mississippi House of Representatives[edit]


In April 2006, incumbent Republican State Representative Leonard Bentz of Mississippi's 116th House District resigned because he was appointed to the Mississippi Public Service Commission. Palazzo sought election to the vacated seat, defeating Democratic candidate Maryann Graczyk, an education lobbyist, and Republican George Emile, a funeral home director, 51%–26%–24%.[5] In 2007, running unopposed, he was elected to a full term.[6]

Committee assignments[edit]

Palazzo served on the Banking and Financial Services, Juvenile Justice, Labor, Select Committee on the Gulf Coast Disaster, and the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committees.[1]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



Palazzo entered the Republican primary for Mississippi's 4th congressional district and won the nomination with 57% of the vote. He faced 10-term Democratic incumbent Gene Taylor in the general election. Although the 4th district had turned almost solidly Republican at the federal level, Taylor had held the seat without serious difficulty since 1996. His voting record had been very conservative even by Mississippi Democratic standards, and he had often broken with his party. Palazzo established himself as Taylor's strongest opponent since 1996. In particular, he attacked Taylor for supporting Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker in 2006 and 2008.[7] He was endorsed by Sarah Palin and defeated Taylor, 52%–47%.[8]

Mississippi's 4th congressional district general election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Steven Palazzo 105,613 51.93
Democratic Gene Taylor (incumbent) 95,243 46.83
Libertarian Tim Hampton 1,741 0.86
Reform Anna Jewel Revies 787 0.39
Total votes 203,384 100.00


In the Republican primary, Palazzo defeated two challengers with 74% of the vote.[9] In the general election, he defeated Democratic nominee Matthew Moore, 64%–29%.[10]

Mississippi's 4th congressional district, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Steven Palazzo (incumbent) 182,998 64.1
Democratic Matt Moore 82,344 28.9
Libertarian Ron Williams 17,982 6.3
Reform Robert Claunch 2,108 0.7
Total votes 285,432 100.0
Republican hold


In the Republican primary, Palazzo faced his predecessor, Taylor, and three other challengers.[11] Taylor switched parties in a bid to return to his former seat,[12] actively campaigning and drawing large numbers of Democrats into the Republican primary.[11] Palazzo was targeted by the Club for Growth.[13] Palazzo won 50.5% of the vote to Taylor's 43%.[11]

In the general election, Palazzo easily defeated his 2012 general-election opponent, Matt Moore, 69.9% to 24.3%; four minor party or independent candidates received 3.8% of the vote.[14]

Mississippi's 4th congressional district, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Steven Palazzo (incumbent) 108,776 69.9
Democratic Matt Moore 37,869 24.3
Independent Cindy Burleson 3,684 2.4
Libertarian Joey Robinson 3,473 2.2
Reform Eli Jackson 917 0.6
Independent Ed Reich 857 0.6
Total votes 155,576 100.0
Republican hold


In the Republican primary, Palazzo ran unopposed for the first time in his political career. In the general election, Palazzo won 65.2% of the vote, defeating Democratic nominee Mark Gladney and two minor candidates.[15]

Mississippi's 4th congressional district, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Steven Palazzo (incumbent) 181,323 65.0
Democratic Mark Gladney 77,505 27.8
Libertarian Richard Blake McCluskey 14,687 5.3
Reform Shawn O'Hara 5,264 1.9
Total votes 278,779 100.0
Republican hold


In the June 5 Republican primary, Palazzo defeated E. Brian Rose, 70.5% to 29.5%. He won the general election over Democratic state Representative Jeramey Anderson, 68.2% to 30.7%, with Lajena Sheets of the Reform Party taking 1% of the vote.[16]

Mississippi's 4th congressional district, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Steven Palazzo (incumbent) 152,633 68.2
Democratic Jeramey Anderson 68,787 30.8
Reform Lajena Sheets 2,312 1.0
Total votes 223,732 100.0
Republican hold


In the June 3 primary, Palazzo ran against Robert Deming, Samuel Hickman and Carl Boyanton. He won with 66.8% of the vote, with Deming finishing second with 14.1%. He was unopposed in the general election for the first time in his career.

Mississippi's 4th congressional district, 2020
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Steven Palazzo (incumbent) 255,971 100.0
Total votes 255,971 100.0
Republican hold


Palazzo lost renomination to Mike Ezell in the June 28, 2022, Republican primary.


Palazzo during the 112th Congress

Palazzo voted with his Republican colleagues to pass a balanced budget amendment and repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In 2015, Palazzo cosponsored a resolution to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.[17] He also condemned the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that same-sex marriage bans violated the constitution.[18]

In February 2017, Palazzo began to face calls from constituents to attend town halls. One on the Gulf Coast in Long Beach was organized. A similar meeting was organized in Hattiesburg. Palazzo did not attend either.[19][20]

In 2018, Palazzo defended the Trump administration's policy of separating small children from immigrant parents by blaming it on Democratic administrations. "Overall, it’s a terrible, sad situation that unfortunately has been created by years of liberal policies that lead illegal immigrants to believe they can freely stroll through our borders. There is no law requiring separation of families at the border. In April, Attorney General Sessions implemented a zero-tolerance policy that mandates that each person caught illegally crossing the U.S. border be criminally prosecuted. I stand firmly behind that policy." He continued, "this separation of families is the adverse effect created by a past liberal policy", and "I will not allow the Democrats and liberal media to use this issue to push amnesty or other unsafe immigration policies down the throats of the American people."[21]

In December 2020, Palazzo was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives to sign an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the United States Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden defeated[22] incumbent Donald Trump. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of an election held by another state.[23][24][25]

On November 30, 2021, Palazzo was the lone Mississippi House Republican to vote for of H.R. 550: Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2021. The bill helps create confidential, population-based databases that maintain a record of vaccine administrations.[26]

Palazzo sponsored H.R. 6202, the American Tech Workforce Act of 2021, introduced by Representative Jim Banks. The legislation would establish a wage floor for the high-skill H-1B visa program, thereby significantly reducing employer dependence on the program. The bill would also eliminate the Optional Practical Training program that allows foreign graduates to stay and work in the United States.[27]


Palazzo receiving the True Blue award by FRC President Tony Perkins

Palazzo was one of the initial co-sponsors of the Social Media Working Group Act of 2014 (H.R. 4263; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the United States Secretary of Homeland Security to establish within the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a social media working group (the Group) to provide guidance and best practices to the emergency preparedness and response community on the use of social media technologies before, during, and after a terrorist attack.[28][better source needed] Palazzo said, "social media has played a crucial role in emergency preparedness and response in Mississippi, including during disasters like Hurricane Isaac and the tornadoes that hit the Hattiesburg area a little over a year ago."[29] He said the bill's goal was to "build upon existing public-private partnerships and use social media in a more strategic way in order to help save lives and property."[29]

On April 7, 2014, Palazzo introduced the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4412; 113th Congress), a bill that would authorize the appropriation of $17.6 billion in fiscal year 2014 to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).[30][31] NASA would use the funding for human exploration of space, the Space Launch System, the Orion multipurpose crew vehicle, the commercial crew program, the International Space Station (ISS), and various technological and educational projects.[30][32] Palazzo said, "American leadership in space depends on our ability to put people and sound policy ahead of politics."[32]

With the Trump administration at an impasse regarding appropriations for border security, Palazzo proposed his own border wall funding solution in December 2018. Under his Border Bonds for America Act, individual American citizens would fund the costs of building a wall on the southern border by buying revenue bonds from the U.S. Treasury. His bill drew little support, dying before the new Democratic House majority was sworn in in January 2019.[33]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Palazzo divorced his wife Lisa M. Belvin in April 2016, reportedly after she fell ill.[36]

Palazzo is Roman Catholic.[37]


Before the 2016 general election, Libertarian challenger Ric McCluskey accused Palazzo of not being truthful about his service in the National Guard, claiming Palazzo failed to show up for mandatory drills.[38] Mississippi State Representative David Baria, a Democrat, sent the National Guard a letter asking them to look into Palazzo's hours of service. Baria said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was investigating the claims.[39] Palazzo denied the claims, saying, "This is a ridiculous accusation and a desperate attempt to smear a soldier’s service solely for political gain."[40]

On August 3, 2017, Republican challenger E. Brian Rose presented documents he said raised questions about Palazzo's military service record.[41] Rose claimed the documents revealed Palazzo fraudulently sought discharge from the National Guard based on false claims of financial, family, and community hardships. ABC affiliate WLOX verified Rose's documents, stating, "WLOX has verified through an independent source that the documents are authentic."[42] Palazzo acknowledged the documents, saying, "Not once have I ever denied that I requested this waiver more than a decade ago", but called the revelation a "disgusting" attack on his family and his character.[42]

In March 2020, the watchdog group Campaign Legal Center (CLC) asked the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to investigate Palazzo for potentially violating campaign finance laws by "channel[ing] six figures of donors’ money to family-owned businesses."[43]


  1. ^ a b "Steven Palazzo District 116". Archived from the original on May 11, 2010. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  2. ^ "Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress - Retro Member details". bioguideretro.congress.gov. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  3. ^ "Once a Soldier... Always a Soldier" (PDF). Legislative Agenda. Association of the United States Army. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 21, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  4. ^ "Linkedin".
  5. ^ "MS State House 116 – Special Election Race – Nov 07, 2006". Ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  6. ^ "MS State House 116 Race". Ourcampaigns.com. November 6, 2007. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  7. ^ "Taylor: I voted for McCain – Jessica Taylor". Politico. 25 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
  8. ^ "MS – District 04 Race – Nov 02, 2010". Ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  9. ^ "MS District 04 – R Primary Race – Mar 13, 2012". Ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  10. ^ "MS – District 04 Race – Nov 06, 2012". Ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  11. ^ a b c "Palazzo defeats Taylor in 4th Congressional District primary". Msbusiness.com. 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  12. ^ Joseph, Cameron (March 2014). "Ex-Rep. switches parties to run again". The Hill. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  13. ^ Jaffe, Alexandra (February 27, 2013). "Club for Growth targeting 9 'RINO' Republicans for primary challenges – The Hill's Ballot Box". The Hill. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  14. ^ "2014 General Elections". Sos.ms.gov. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  15. ^ "2016 Mississippi House Election Results". Politico. 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2016-11-12.
  16. ^ Steven Palazzo, Ballotpedia, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  17. ^ Huelskamp, Tim (2015-02-12). "Cosponsors - H.J.Res.32 - 114th Congress (2015-2016): Marriage Protection Amendment". www.congress.gov. Retrieved 2022-04-10.
  18. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  19. ^ Keeton, Hugh. "Town hall crowd gathers in Long Beach, lawmakers no-show". Retrieved 2017-02-25.
  20. ^ "Where's Steven Palazzo? Congressman elusive for some Coast constituents". sunherald. Retrieved 2017-02-25.
  21. ^ What our officials are saying on border crisis, locking up children, separating families, Clarion Ledger, Sarah Fowler, June 20, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  22. ^ Blood, Michael R.; Riccardi, Nicholas (December 5, 2020). "Biden officially secures enough electors to become president". AP News. Archived from the original on December 8, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  23. ^ Liptak, Adam (2020-12-11). "Supreme Court Rejects Texas Suit Seeking to Subvert Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved 2020-12-12.
  24. ^ "Order in Pending Case" (PDF). Supreme Court of the United States. 2020-12-11. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  25. ^ Diaz, Daniella. "Brief from 126 Republicans supporting Texas lawsuit in Supreme Court". CNN. Archived from the original on December 12, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  26. ^ "H.R. 550: Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2021 -- House Vote #388 -- Nov 30, 2021".
  27. ^ "Cosponsors - H.R.6206 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): American Tech Workforce Act of 2021 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress". U.S. Congress. December 9, 2021. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  28. ^ "H.R. 4263 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  29. ^ a b Thomas, Rachael (17 March 2014). "Palazzo Introduces Social Media Emergency Response Bill". Fox News 25 – WXXV. Archived from the original on 11 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  30. ^ a b "H.R. 4412 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  31. ^ "CBO – H.R. 4412". Congressional Budget Office. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  32. ^ a b Marcos, Cristina (9 June 2014). "House passes NASA reauthorization". The Hill. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  33. ^ Rep. Thompson Blasts White House's 'Outright Lies,' Calls for Hearings, Jackson Free Press, Ashton Pittman, January 7, 2019. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  34. ^ "Members". U.S. - Japan Caucus. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  35. ^ "Membership". Republican Study Committee. 2017-12-06. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  36. ^ Bryan, Roger (2017-11-01). "GOP Congressman, Steve Palazzo, Drowning In Controversy". HuffPost. Retrieved 2018-02-14.
  37. ^ https://www.pewforum.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2021/01/01.04.21_faith_on_the_hill_detailed.table_.update.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  38. ^ "myfox23.com". myfox23.com. November 2016. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  39. ^ "Rep. David Baria Says FBI Investigating into Claims that Palazzo went AWOL". WXXV 25. 2016-11-07. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  40. ^ "National Guard Looks into Claims against Congressman Steven Palazzo". WXXV 25. 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  41. ^ "Republican challenger Brian Rose says if anyone should be ashamed, it's Steven Palazzo". sunherald. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  42. ^ a b Elliott, David. "Congressional candidate releases documents on Rep. Palazzo's military record". Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  43. ^ Evers-Hillstrom, Karl (March 27, 2020). "Watchdog calls for investigation into Mississippi congressman's campaign spending". OpenSecrets. Retrieved March 28, 2020.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative