In calmer times, Tauzins penchant for out-of-town hunting trips, his casual management style and Johnsons freelancing were tolerated, sources said. But when Tauzins longtime press aide essentially put billions of dollars worth of corporate profits at stake, the jig was up, insiders say.
A lot of companies thought [Tauzin] wasnt carrying his weight from a management perspective and that the press operation had gone awry, a health care lobbyist said. Billy wasnt around, and CEOs were getting frustrated.
A PhRMA press statement late Thursday indicated that Tauzins last day will be June 30. Johnson told his staff on Friday that he will leave the same day.
An avid sportsman, Tauzin has owned hunting preserves in Texas and Maryland, including 230 acres on the Eastern Shore, according to previous reporting by Roll Call.
He single-handedly is keeping the game population in check in Maryland, a health care lobbyist said.
And even when he was in town, sources claim that Tauzin, who first served in Congress as a Democrat but switched parties after the 1994 GOP House takeover, did not have the necessary clout with Democratic Congressional leadership and the White House that the trade associations membership craved.
The companies also were worried about the return on investment for their recent political bets made on Tauzins watch. At his behest, the trade group has poured millions of dollars into Democratic political causes to curry favor with the new majority party.
He was no longer effective in a Democratic-led government, a Democratic health care lobbyist said. He didnt have standing with Democratic leadership on the Hill, he didnt have any standing or relationships in the White House.
He left the party, the source added. People sort of remember that.
As a result, numerous sources also claimed Tauzin was marginalized from the outset in the health care reform debate by the pharmaceutical companies themselves and by Tauzins in-house lobbying and policy team, which frequently worked directly with PhRMAs member companies.
The CEOs have never been as active as they are now, a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist said. It wasnt Billy that was doing all of the discussions with the White House, it was the CEOs. ... They were acting as the principals more that Billy was.
Tauzins personal loyalty to Johnson, too, infuriated Democrats, a source said. Known for his partisanship while a staffer on Capitol Hill, Johnson apparently frustrated member companies for his insular style.
Ken has been a huge problem forever. ... Hes not very collaborative with member companies or a lot of his colleagues, a health care lobbyist said.
With Tauzin and Johnson leaving, the hunt is on for their replacements. Sources said the drug industrys top trade group is unlikely to hire another former Member as president and CEO.
Ivan Adler, a headhunter at the McCormick Group, predicted a tough recruitment process because of the boards recent dealings with Tauzin. The job does pay handsomely, though: Tauzins annual compensation was estimated at $2 million.
You need to know somebody who understands Washington, and thats easy to find, Adler said. Whats difficult is finding someone who can manage an organization thats always in crisis mode.
Its constantly herding cats, Adler continued. In an organization like PhRMA, this time around theyre going to focus on someone who knows how to run an organization and not just how to get into the Senate Cloakroom.
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