What are some of the highlights of your career?
Becoming a chief of staff to a House member from Texas was a career goal. I wanted to help people down in our state given the fact that I started off in the Texas state legislature. It was very rewarding to be able to deal with constituents I know and share similar views. I got to accomplish some good things like conducting outreach to Veterans. Another accomplishment I would highlight – in Texas, we passed a renewable portfolio standard in 2007, and I went up against all the oil and gas interests as well as the electric generation folks. Our legislation said 20% of all electric generation had to be renewable by 2020. What I liked about it is that it’s an above-all approach, and as a very young lobbyist at the time, it was a big victory for me. Getting into politics was another highlight – no one in my family was in politics, but I went after a passion that took me to the Texas state legislature and later to the halls of Congress. I built my network up from the ground up, so people I interact with on a daily basis are people that I care about, whether they share similar or opposing views.
How has advocacy changed since you were on the Hill?
Congress has become more partisan. I love my friends with different political views, and I used to be able to talk with them without letting disagreements get in the way, but it has become harder to talk with them over the past four years. It really has affected how good government, business, and even family life are conducted.
How does advocacy differ on the state level versus the federal level?
I think they agree very similar in some fashions, but it depends on what state it is. Some states don’t even have legislative staff. In one state I worked in, the lobbyists are essentially their staffers. Members in state houses are generally more accessible than members of Congress. Also, things move slower in Congress, but things move at warp speed in the states, and every state has different rules on how bills become laws. I find state work exhilarating, and I find Congress tactical like a chess match.
What’s some of the best advice you’ve received?
Do not be afraid to make a mistake because you need to learn to stand on your own two feet. I learned that very early on in the Texas state house in 2003. To be a leader, you cannot get a pat on the back for everything you do. You must learn how things work, and sometimes you must have your own conviction, because that is all you have whether you are working in Congress, business or at home. I have made plenty of mistakes, and so has everybody else – it is just how you learn and become a better person.
Other than health care, what other policy areas are you passionate about?
I love financial services. It deals with how the economy works, and it is one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle when it comes to the U.S. economy and everyday life. I also like oil and gas – that is because of where I am from. Having an all above energy approach where everyone is on the same level creates jobs, helps the economy – it does everything. I’m a businessperson by trade, and I love how to put together puzzle pieces in different parts of the economy to make it work for a better America.
What’s one important question that I haven’t asked you?
What drives you? My family, my friends, doing the right things, and telling the truth. Money is not everything; it is the legacy you leave behind. As my grandmother said, “As long as you have those things, you’re in good shape”.
What else should we know about you?
I love politics, but family and friends are number one for me. I have a kid, another kid on the way, a dog, and an awesome wife. They are everything and make me a better person daily. I am an avid sports fan, and I love Dallas sports – the Mavericks, the Cowboys, the Stars, and the Rangers. I also love playing golf. I used to love hunting and fishing, but I have not had enough time to do those activities lately. And a fun fact – I rode a bull in college.