Wilbert J. “Billy” Tauzin
From the small rural Cajun community of Chackbay, Louisiana, Billy Tauzin began his long 34-year career in elective office with a resounding first primary victory, winning his first four-year term in the Louisiana State House of Representatives. There he was recognized as one of “Louisiana’s Ten Best Legislators”, quickly rising to the position of Chief House (Majority) Leader and Chairman of the important Natural Resources Committee, with jurisdiction over both Energy and Environment.
In 1980, Congressman Tauzin sought and won election to the U.S. Congress seat being vacated by newly elected Governor David Treen, and there began a 25 year career representing Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District, comprising the Cajun Parishes located between New Orleans, Lafayette and Baton Rouge. There he held Chairmanships of the U.S. Coast Guard Committee (where he conducted the hearings on the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, and authored the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 legislation); the Panama Canal Committee (where he helped manage the mandated transfer of the canal to the people of Panama); the Telecommunications Committee (where he authored the law providing for Satellite Television Competition, co-authored the historic broadcast deregulation and the laws managing the transition from analog to digital television and cellular telephone and internet broadband service provisions); and eventually the Chairmanship of the powerful, the oldest and most jurisdictionally diverse Committee of Congress, the Energy and Commerce Committee. There, Chairman Tauzin conducted the historic Enron hearings and others like it, the Ford Firestone hearings, which produced the first comprehensive reform of highway safety laws since the 1930’s, and floor managed the passage of the historic Medical Part D reform to Medicare, providing seniors with coverage for their vital medications.
Congressman Tauzin left his mark on natural gas, airline, trucking, and electricity deregulation, on the nation’s Clean Air Act, on Superfund, the historic Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996, on biomedical research, marine and natural resource acts, pipeline safety, finance and consumer protection laws. He was called, “knowledgeable and eloquent” by the Almanac of American Politics, and, “One of the House’s savviest members” by the National Journal magazine. Later, as PhRMA’s President and CEO, the Washingtonian magazine named him as one of the ten most powerful people in Washington, D.C.
Congressman Tauzin holds some extraordinary distinctions: the first and only U.S. Congressman in American history to hold leadership positions in both major political parties, serving fifteen years as a Conservative Democrat (without ever being challenged for re-election by a Republican), and then ten years as a Republican (never once challenged by a Democrat); the only member to ever change parties and receive no opposition from either party in that re-election campaign; the author of the only two major pieces of legislation to become law over a Presidential veto in over four decades (the Satellite Viewers Rights provisions—vetoed by President George H.W. Bush and the Security Litigation Reform Act—vetoed by President Clinton), and the longest serving Congressman for Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District in U.S. history.
In 2004, as he was being heavily courted to retire and assume the position of President of the Motion Picture Association to replace Jack Valenti, Congressman Tauzin was diagnosed with a rare form of intestinal cancer. Forced to leave Congress and his Chairmanship behind, he began a yearlong battle for his life. Given less than a 1% chance of survival, the Congressman not only overcame those great odds, but in January 2005 assumed the Presidency of PhRMA, the trade association representing the drug discoverers who had just saved his life. Over the next 5 ½ years, Congressman Tauzin helped shepherd the industry through the turbulent years of health care reform and left the important legacy of a new Patients’ Assistance Program, now providing over six million needy Americans with free medicines they could not otherwise afford, and a new program to help close the so-called “hole in the doughnut” of Medicare coverage.
Upon retirement from PhRMA in 2010, Congressman Tauzin and his son Thomas formed the new government relations firm of Tauzin Consultants, and personally affiliated with the national firm of Alston + Bird as “Special Legislative Counsel”.
Some other interesting facts about Congressman Tauzin:
- Starred on stage as Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as Applegate (the devil) in Damn Yankees, and numerous other amateur productions.
- Worked in home heating and air conditioning and in electrical wiring.
- Learned construction with his father and re-roofed, air conditioned and built an upstairs bedroom in his father’s house, which was converted from his grandfather’s dance hall.
- Worked as a field hand, and later as a pipe-fitter helping in a shipyard.
- Earned a B.A. from Nicholls State University, where he served as student body President, and won a state literary award with a prize-winning short story and published poetry.
- Like King George VI of England, suffered from a severe speech impediment that was corrected by a gifted speech therapist.
- Earned his J.D. from L.S.U. law school along with U.S. Senator John Breaux. Congressman Tauzin is Godfather to Breaux’s son Bill as Senator Breaux is Godfather to Congressman Tauzin’s son, Bill.
- Chartered a Louisiana State Savings and Loan Association and Chaired its first Board.
- Co-founded the famous Congressional Democratic Blue Dogs and served as one of its first Co-Chairs.
- Co-authored a Cajun cookbook, entitled Cook + Tell, and cooked on Martha Stewart’s television show (and later led the Congressional investigation of her stock involvement in ImClone).
- Gave a young James Carville his first political election victory in the Congressman’s first campaign in 1980, where James served as a young intern.
- Conducted in 1997 and 1998 a 40-city national debate tour with Congressman Dick Armey, entitled the Armey-Tauzin Scrap the Code Tour, arguing for a National Sales Tax to replace the U.S. Income tax.
- With four other colleagues, dumped the U.S. Income Tax Code off the deck of the tea ship, “Beaver II’ into Boston Harbor on April 15, 1997.
- In 1998, authored a book entitled, The National Sales Tax, calling for the repeal of the U.S. Income Tax Code and calling upon U.S. citizens to begin forming “Tea Parties” across America to wrest power away from Washington, D.C. and return freedom and liberty to the people of our country.
Congressman Tauzin also now serves on the Boards of Directors of Entergy Corporation and on LHC Group, a multi-state provider of home health and hospice care, where he is Lead Independent Director.
Over the years Congressman Tauzin has been honored by such diverse groups as the Chamber of Commerce, Farm Bureau, National Federation of Independent Business, B’nai B’rith, Concord Coalition, Business Software Alliance, National Association of Manufacturers, Christian Coalition, Boy Scouts of America, National Association of Broadcasters, the 3rd Congressional District Black Caucus, and many more.
Thomas N. Tauzin, Partner
Thomas N. Tauzin is a Partner at Tauzin Consultants, where he focuses on health care, information technology (IT), finance, telecommunications, energy, and transportation affairs. He co-founded the firm with his father, former Congressman Billy J. Tauzin. Tauzin Consultants is a government relations, advocacy and business development consulting firm that capitalizes on Congressman Tauzin’s broad and deep experience over a nearly 40-year career.
Prior to starting Tauzin Consultants, Thomas was a Vice President at Capitol Hill Consulting Group, another government relations firm in Washington, DC. Here, he honed his expertise on a number of critical issues including online security and access and health information technology. Before joining Capitol Hill Consulting Group, Thomas served as Senior Vice President of Business Development for iMedicor, a physician and patient portal focusing on improving health information exchange by providing free secure messaging amongst members.
Previously, Thomas worked for Clear Channel Entertainment UK (now Live Nation UK) as International Director of Instant Live where he co-designed a modular studio for mixing, recording, duplicating and selling live albums and DVDs in real-time and on the same night of a concert. Thomas co-produced the albums and DVDs and was also involved in negotiating contracts with artists and labels and the financial accounting of each project.
Thomas’s first full-time job was an equity trader with Instinet Corporation. After acquiring his Series 7, 55 and 63 licenses, Thomas was assigned to the buy-side working order desk where he traded a full range of equities on behalf of clients around the globe. He later held positions with Instinet on the sell-side as an account manager and directing sales from Delaware to Florida to Texas.
Thomas earned his B.A. in Finance from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 2000.
John Blount, Partner
John Blount is a Partner at Tauzin Consultants, with expertise in the areas of financial services, aviation, defense, and health care. Mr. Blount’s clients have benefited over the years from his tenure on Capitol Hill where he is currently considered one of the leading consultants in Washington.
Mr. Blount served as a senior aide to three Members of the House of Representatives. He later joined the world’s largest trade association, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), where he served as the organization’s top Capitol Hill lobbyist. During that time, Mr. Blount worked extensively with the House Ways and Means Committee, the House Financial Institutions Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee, the Senate Finance and Banking Committees and had full authority over the organization’s efforts within the Executive Branch. In addition, he was responsible for maintaining the 800,000 member grassroots organization and administered a $4 million PAC.
After a decade with the NAR, Mr. Blount headed the lobbying efforts for the Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans where he concentrated on health care and pension issues of interest to the organization’s Fortune 500 members. Mr. Blount joined Tauzin Consultants after serving as the Senior Vice President of the Capitol Hill Consulting Group and has since continued representing a diverse client base that includes the Exotic Wildlife Association, Industrial Safety Training Council, Phillips & Jordan, and many others. Mr. Blount currently resides in Alexandria with his wife, Betty.
Liz Williams, Principal
Liz Williams has more than 16 years of fundraising and advocacy experience on Capitol Hill crafting integrated government relations and communications strategies aimed at shaping public policy. Ms. Williams started her career at the National Republican Congressional Committee raising funds for Members of Congress and Congressional candidates and has a strong, continued network of relationships at the NRCC and NRSC. She has also worked in the non-profit and private sector as a House Liaison at The Heritage Foundation and as the founding PAC Director at Van Scoyoc Associates, Inc. Liz served as a Federal Liaison at the National Rifle Association for over 5 years with the responsibility for advocating NRA’s federal interests to Members of the US Senate and House of Representatives. Most recently, Liz founded Williams & Company where she serviced clients across the legislative spectrum relating to, healthcare, federal appropriations, Department of Defense issues and Interior matters involving sportsmen issues.
Liz gives back to the Capitol Hill community where she serves on the board of the Capitol Hill Club and is the past president of the Washington, DC Chapter of Safari Club International and serves on the board of the Government Affairs and SCI-PAC committee’s at the National level.
Liz’s move to Tauzin Consultants, where she is a Principal in the firm, allows her to utilize their vast strategic network to further her client’s objectives.
Ms. Williams received her B.A. in Marking-Advertising from the University of Mississippi and currently lives in Arlington, Virginia.
Brendan O’Connor, Director of Business Development
Brendan O’Connor is Director of Business Development for Tauzin Consultants. Brendan helped former Congressman Tauzin and his son Tom Tauzin start the firm in January 2011. In his current role, Brendan is consistently exploring innovation. The firm’s broad portfolio of industry-disrupting health care and telecommunications clients has unique needs that cannot be served effectively while thinking “inside the box”. Our industries of focus are rapidly evolving and our innovative client base requires forward-thinking solutions to ensure their longevity and success.
In growing our client base, Brendan assists with the performance of due diligence on potential clients, examining the market and the inner workings of the company in order to determine the probability of our mutual success. For our current clients, he has discovered and implemented creative funding solutions such as equity crowdfunding, while constantly seeking traditional non-dilutive capital sources such as federal funding opportunities. The firm’s impressive rolodex of contacts makes us a differentiator in our areas of expertise, and Brendan continues to grow that rolodex by developing informal strategic relationships with a number of innovative partners who see value in our clients. On top of our suite of business acceleration services, Brendan also develops relationships and works closely with regulatory bodies and legislators to educate them on our clients and find solutions to any barriers that may exist.
Before joining Tauzin Consultants, Brendan worked for former Congressman Bill K. Brewster’s government-relations firm, Capitol Hill Consulting Group. Brendan, a North Carolina native, earned his B.A. in International Studies from Elon University in 2009.
Chris Kapsch, Associate Director, MACC
Chris Kapsch serves as the Associate Director for the Medicine Access and Compliance Coalition (MACC), a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that promotes integrity and transparency within the 340B Prescription Drug Benefit Program. Chris assists in setting the agenda and coordinates outreach on behalf of the coalition.
Chris first joined Tauzin Consultants in April of 2012. Prior to joining the firm, Chris spent three years in the financial services industry, working for John Hancock and Credit Suisse. Chris grew up in North Carolina and received a B.S. in Business Administration, with a concentration in Economics, from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2009.
Michael Meirovitz, Account Representative
Michael Meirovitz serves as Account Representative and Office Manager at Tauzin Consultants. Having joined the firm in 2013, Michael works closely with clients to help them execute their strategic goals. As an Account Representative, he connects clients to policymakers and stakeholders both within the government and the private sector. Additionally, he conducts in-depth policy research and assists with various advocacy efforts. Michael also seeks federal funding opportunities for clients by identifying non-dilutive capital, such as grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements. As Office Manager, Michael manages Tauzin Consultants’ day-to-day office operations and human resources. He works with the firm’s vendors and oversees administrative activities.
Prior to joining Tauzin Consultants in 2013, Michael spent several years in various government affairs roles, working for both a non-profit trade association and a prominent lobbying firm. He has also interned for multiple congressional offices, including the Senate H.E.L.P. Committee’s Health Policy Office. Michael is an alumnus of Penn State University, where in 2008 he earned a B.A. in Political Science. In 2013, he received a M.A. in Governmental Studies from Johns Hopkins University. Michael is a native of Boston, Massachusetts.
Samantha Frith, Executive Assistant
Samantha Frith is the Executive Assistant, Scheduler, and Staff Assistant for Tauzin Consultants. Samantha joined the firm in August 2013. In her role, Samantha serves as the assistant to Congressman Tauzin, acts as a liaison for Congressman Tauzin with both staff and executive clients, and handles all of the firm’s administrative duties.
Prior to joining the firm, Samantha worked for Memorial Hermann Hospital and she spent a year interning with the Environment, Energy, and Transportation Department at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Samantha is from Houston, TX and received a B.A. in Environmental Studies, specializing in Climate & Energy, from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 2012.