Billy Tauzin

Wilbert Joseph Tauzin II (IPA: ['bɪli 'toʊzɛ̃]; born June 14, 1943) is an American lobbyist and politician.[1] He was President and CEO of PhRMA, a pharmaceutical company lobby group. Tauzin was also a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1980 to 2005, representing Louisiana's 3rd congressional district.[2]

Billy Tauzin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 3rd district
In office
May 22, 1980 – January 3, 2005
Preceded byDavid Treen
Succeeded byCharlie Melançon
Personal details
Wilbert Joseph Tauzin II

(1943-06-14) June 14, 1943
Chackbay, Louisiana, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (1972–1995)
Republican (1995–present)
Spouse(s)(1) Gayle Clement Tauzin
(2) Cecile Bergeron
EducationNicholls State University (BA)
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge (JD)
ProfessionPolitician, lawyer, lobbyist

Personal life

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

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.[3] 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 for governor of Louisiana, but lost to a 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.[4] 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.[5]

Career as a lobbyist

In January 2005, the day after his term in Congress ended, he began work as the head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA.[6] a powerful trade group for pharmaceutical companies. Tauzin was hired at a salary outsiders estimated at $2 million a year. Five years later, he announced his retirement from the association (as of the end of June 2010).[1]

Two months before resigning as chair of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which oversees the drug industry, Tauzin had played a key role in shepherding through Congress the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill. Democrats said that the bill was "a give-away to the drugmakers" because it prohibited the government from negotiating lower drug prices and bans the importation of identical, cheaper, drugs from Canada and elsewhere. The Veterans Affairs agency, which can negotiate drug prices, pays much less than Medicare does. The bill was passed in an unusual congressional session at 3 a.m. under heavy pressure from the drug companies.[7][2]

As head of PhRMA, Tauzin was a key figure in 2009 health care reform negotiations that produced pharmaceutical industry support for White House and Senate efforts.[4]

Tauzin received $11.6 million from PhRMA in 2010, making him the highest-paid health-law lobbyist.[8] Tauzin now is on the Board of Directors at Louisiana Healthcare Group.


Jerome Schneider

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."[9] Tauzin also spoke at one of Schneider's tax conferences.[10] After Schneider pleaded guilty in 2004 to assisting hundreds of people to avoid taxes through sham offshore banks,[10][11] a spokesperson for Tauzin called his endorsement "a stupid mistake."[10]

Connections to pharmaceutical industry

In his capacity as chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Tauzin "was one of the chief architects of the Medicare bill."[12] Tauzin's appointment shortly afterward as chief lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the trade association and lobby group for the drug industry, drew criticism from consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, which claimed Tauzin "may have been negotiating for the lobbying job while writing the Medicare legislation."[12][13]

It's a sad commentary on politics in Washington that a member of Congress who pushed through a major piece of legislation benefiting the drug industry, gets the job leading that industry.

Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook, 2004

See also


  1. Eggen, Dan (February 12, 2010). "Billy Tauzin, key player in health-care push, leaving PhRMA". Washington Post. Retrieved February 13, 2010.
  2. Potter, Wendell; Penniman, Nick (March 2016). Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781632861108, excerpt published as "The Lobbyist Who Made You Pay More at the Drugstore".
  3. Tauzin, Billy (December 1, 1998). National Retail Sales Tax. Claitors Pub Division. ISBN 9781579803087.
  4. McCaughan, Michael (March 23, 2010). "Health Care Reform A Done Deal: Pharma Bets On The Right Horse". Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  5. "Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on July 3, 2009. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  6. , USA Today
  7. Under the Influence , Steve Kroft, Michelle Singer, 60 Minutes, broadcast April 1, 2007, updated July 23, 2007.
  8. "Tauzin's $11.6 million made him highest-paid health-law lobbyist". Bloomberg.
  9. "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). Retrieved November 5, 2010.
  10. 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.
  11. "Quatlosers Hall of Shame – Jerome Schneider". Financial & Tax Fraud Education Associates, Inc. Archived from the original on October 17, 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
  12. Samuel, Terence (2004). "A Political Prescription". 136 (5). U.S. News & World Report via EBSCO. pp. 27–28. Retrieved November 22, 2015.
  13. Sarasohn, Judy (December 16, 2004). "Tauzin to Head Drug Trade Group". Washington Post. Retrieved November 22, 2015.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
David C. Treen
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Charlie Melancon
Political offices
Preceded by
Tom Bliley
Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
Succeeded by
Joe Barton
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