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Steven Palazzo

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Steven Palazzo
Steven Palazzo, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded byGene Taylor
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 50)
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)[1]
RankArmy-USA-OR-05.svg Sergeant
UnitUnited States Marine Corps Reserve
Mississippi Army National Guard
Battles/warsGulf War

Steven McCarty Palazzo /pəˈlɑːz/ (born February 21, 1970) is an American politician who has been the U.S. Representative for Mississippi's 4th congressional district since 2011. The district takes in Mississippi's Gulf Coast and includes Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, Laurel and Hattiesburg. Palazzo is a member of the Republican Party.

He defeated 10-term Democratic incumbent Gene Taylor with 52% to 47% of the vote in the 2010 mid-term election. Previously, he served in the Mississippi House of Representatives, having represented District 116 from 2006 to 2011. Palazzo again narrowly defeated Taylor in the June 2014 Republican primary election. Taylor switched parties in a bid to return to his former House seat.[2]

Early life, education, and military service[edit]

Palazzo was born February 21, 1970 in Gulfport.[3]

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

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 defeated Democratic candidate Maryann Graczyk, an education lobbyist, and Republican George Emile, a funeral home director, 51%–26%–24%.[4] In 2007, running unopposed, he was elected to a full term.[5]


Palazzo was awarded the 2009 Elected Official of the Year from the MS Wildlife Federation. The Mississippi Business Journal and the Sun Herald (2005) named Palazzo as a Top Business Leader under 40.[6]

Committee assignments[edit]

He served on the Banking and Financial Services, Juvenile Justice, Labor, Select Committee on the Gulf Coast Disaster, and the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committees.[3]

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 had turned almost solidly Republican at the federal level, Taylor held the seat without serious difficulty from 1996 onward. His voting record had been very conservative even by Mississippi Democratic standards, and he'd 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 in the November 2010 general election, Palazzo defeated Taylor 52%–47%.[8]


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


In the Republican primary, Palazzo faced four challengers, including his predecessor, Taylor. Palazzo won 50.5% of the vote while Taylor won 43% of the vote. Three minor candidates made up the remaining percentage. Taylor actively campaigned and drew large numbers of Democrats into the Republican primary.[11] Palazzo was targeted by the Club for Growth.[12]

On Nov. 4th 2014, Palazzo easily defeated his 2012 opponent, Matt Moore, 69.9% to 24.3%; four minor party or independent candidates accounted for 3.8% of the vote.[13]


In the Republican primary, Palazzo ran unopposed for the first time in his political career. On November 8, Palazzo garnered 65.2% of the vote defeating Democrat Mark Gladney and two minor candidates.[14]


In the Republican primary for U.S. House Mississippi District 4, Palazzo defeated E. Brian Rose on June 5, 2018, by a margin of 70.5% to 29.5%. He won the general election over Democratic state Representative Jeramey Anderson, by a margin of 68.2% to 30.7%, with Lajena Sheets of the Reform Party taking 1% of the vote.[15]


Palazzo voted with his Republican colleagues to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment, and force to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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.[16][17]

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." "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."[18]


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.[19]

Palazzo stated that "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."[20] He said that their goal with the bill 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."[20]

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).[21][22] 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.[21][23] Palazzo said that "American leadership in space depends on our ability to put people and sound policy ahead of politics."[23]

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.[24]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

  • Congressional Air Force Caucus
  • Congressional Army Caucus
  • Congressional Caucus on CPAs and Accountants
  • Congressional Chicken Caucus
  • Congressional Diabetes Caucus
  • Congressional Dyslexia Caucus
  • Congressional Gaming and Entertaining Caucus
  • Congressional Home Protection Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Congressional Italian-American Caucus
  • Congressional Manufactured Housing Caucus
  • Congressional Mississippi River Caucus
  • Congressional National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Congressional Navy and Marine Corps Caucus
  • Congressional Peanut Caucus
  • Congressional Planetary Science Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Congressional Ports Opportunity, Renewal, Trade and Security Caucus
  • Congressional Refinery Caucus
  • Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus
  • Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus
  • Congressional Taiwan Caucus
  • Congressional Term Limits Caucus
  • Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus
  • Congressional U.S. Expatriate Caucus(Chair)
  • Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus
  • Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus
  • Congressional Wine Caucus
  • Congressional Working Forests Caucus
  • House Aerospace Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • House Congressional Mobility Air Forces Caucus
  • House General Aviation Caucus
  • House NASA Caucus
  • House Republican Study Committee
  • Rare Disease Caucus
  • Taxed Enough Already Caucus
  • U.S.-Japan Caucus[25]
  • United Service Organizations Congressional Caucus

Personal life[edit]

Palazzo divorced the former Lisa M. Belvin in April 2016.[26] He is a member of the Rotary, VFW, NRA, MS Society of CPAs, USM Alumni Association; Boys & Girls Club Board Member; Marine Corps Association and AICPA.


Prior to 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.[27]

Mississippi State Representative David Baria, a Democrat, sent a letter to the National Guard inquiring them to looking into Palazzo’s hours of service. Baria said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was investigating the claims.[28]

Palazzo denied the claims, stating, "This is a ridiculous accusation and a desperate attempt to smear a soldier’s service solely for political gain."[29]

On August 3, 2017, Republican challenger E. Brian Rose presented documents he said raised questions about Palazzo's military service record.[30]

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."[31] Palazzo acknowledged the documents by saying, "Not once have I ever denied that I requested this waiver more than a decade ago", but went on to call the revelation a "disgusting" attack on his family and his character.[31]

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."[32]


  1. ^ "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.
  2. ^ "Cameron Joseph, Ex-Rep. switches parties to run again". Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Steven Palazzo District 116". Archived from the original on May 11, 2010. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  4. ^ "MS State House 116 – Special Election Race – Nov 07, 2006". Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  5. ^ "MS State House 116 Race". November 6, 2007. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  6. ^ "Steven Palazzo – U.S. Congress". Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  7. ^ "Taylor: I voted for McCain – Jessica Taylor". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
  8. ^ "MS – District 04 Race – Nov 02, 2010". Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  9. ^ "MS District 04 – R Primary Race – Mar 13, 2012". Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  10. ^ "MS – District 04 Race – Nov 06, 2012". Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  11. ^ "Palazzo defeats Taylor in 4th Congressional District primary". 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  12. ^ Jaffe, Alexandra (February 27, 2013). "Club for Growth targeting 9 'RINO' Republicans for primary challenges – The Hill's Ballot Box". Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  13. ^ "2014 General Elections". Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  14. ^ "2016 Mississippi House Election Results". 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2016-11-12.
  15. ^ Steven Palazzo, Ballotpedia, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  16. ^ Keeton, Hugh. "Town hall crowd gathers in Long Beach, lawmakers no-show". Retrieved 2017-02-25.
  17. ^ "Where's Steven Palazzo? Congressman elusive for some Coast constituents". sunherald. Retrieved 2017-02-25.
  18. ^ What our officials are saying on border crisis, locking up children, separating families, Clarion Ledger, Sarah Fowler, June 20, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  19. ^ "H.R. 4263 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ a b "H.R. 4412 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  22. ^ "CBO – H.R. 4412". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  23. ^ a b Marcos, Cristina (9 June 2014). "House passes NASA reauthorization". The Hill. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  24. ^ Rep. Thompson Blasts White House's 'Outright Lies,' Calls for Hearings, Jackson Free Press, Ashton Pittman, January 7, 2019. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  25. ^ "Members". U.S. - Japan Caucus. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  26. ^ Bryan, Roger (2017-11-01). "GOP Congressman, Steve Palazzo, Drowning In Controversy". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-02-14.
  27. ^ "". Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  28. ^ "Rep. David Baria Says FBI Investigating into Claims that Palazzo went AWOL". WXXV 25. 2016-11-07. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  29. ^ "National Guard Looks into Claims against Congressman Steven Palazzo". WXXV 25. 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  30. ^ "Republican challenger Brian Rose says if anyone should be ashamed, it's Steven Palazzo". sunherald. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  31. ^ a b Elliott, David. "Congressional candidate releases documents on Rep. Palazzo's military record". Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  32. ^ Evers-Hillstrom, Karl (March 27, 2020). "Watchdog calls for investigation into Mississippi congressman's campaign spending". Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved March 28, 2020.

External links[edit]

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

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
David McKinley
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Cedric Richmond