Making an impact on Capitol Hill OC grad makes impact on legal system

For OC grad Tim Tardibono (94), a routine morning includes a thorough reading of the Combat Meth Act and advising his boss of any potential problems ... or reading through opinions of nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tim's boss, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma, has a well-deserved reputation on Capitol Hill for a no-nonsense approach to government waste of taxpayers' dollars. As Coburn's staff counsel, Tim often reflects that approach when dealing with government agencies. 

Recently, for example, the House of Representatives introduced a bill for the Environmental Protection Agency requesting $18 million, a fairly modest sum in Washington circles. Neither the House Committee nor the EPA specified the cost estimates for the funds, which prompted Tim to demand an accounting for the full amount. 

A hold was placed on the bill until the House Committee or the EPA provided the requested information. 

An academician was able to demonstrate that the government's estimated cost was far too high. The bill was cleared only after the funding amount was reduced by more than two-thirds, saving taxpayers nearly $15 million. 

"Sometimes we put a hold on a bill just to get more time to review it," Tim said from his office in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. "The way the Senate works, a senator can put a hold on a bill and it requires 60 votes to get the bill moving again. They are starting to look over their shoulders at their spending requests because they know we're watching."

Now, staffs at other senators' offices and government agencies regularly come to Tim and his Coburn colleagues to negotiate before a bill is introduced. 

"One of the things we look for in a new bill or an amendment is whether it should be a state or federal issue," Tim said. "If it is a federal issue, we'll determine whether the taxpayers' dollars are being spent efficiently. We will reach an agreement when there is a common benefit for the taxpayer." 

Tim, who holds a law degree and a master's degree in government from Regent University, advises Senator Coburn on legal issues, judiciary, criminal law enforcement, drug enforcement, labor relations, telecommunications, international trade, welfare, election law/campaign finance issues, social service issues and many 
other areas. 

Senator Coburn's staff numbers approximately 50 people in Washington and Oklahoma. There are eight to 12 people who handle legislation and committee assignments, and another six or seven who write letters on issues. Every letter received from an Oklahoman is reviewed by staff members like Tim. 

Tim's workday, which begins with a 35-minute ride on the Metro from his home in Vienna, Va., can last well into the evening when Congress is in session. He looks forward to recesses when he can spend more time with his wife, Marilyn, and his three children. He has learned to be a better manager of time. 

Tim grew up in Bethany/Warr Acres, Okla., and might have followed his brothers to the University of Oklahoma had it not been for the experiences he had at OC Cage Camp.

"I had a really great experience at the OC basketball camps so I decided to give OC a try," he said. "I really liked the campus and could feel that it was the right environment for me. The Christian influence was a big factor in my decision."

Tim received a debate scholarship at OC, was in the Chorale, served as Student Senate secretary and was a member of Kappa Sigma Tau.

"Some people complained about having to go to Chapel every day, but looking back on it, for me it was a nice break and I could relax and gather my thoughts and focus on God," he said.

After graduating from OC in December 1993, Tim worked in retail until he saved enough money to attend law school. 

After graduating from Regent University School of Law in Virginia, Tim returned to Oklahoma. He worked for the Department of Health and Human Services during Governor Frank Keating's administration and later practiced law. He joined Coburn's staff in March 2005.

Tim said Marilyn was excited when she heard that Tom Coburn had decided to run for the Senate and encouraged Tim to apply for a staff job because "he could work for someone he respected."
Tim plans to work for Senator Coburn until Tim hears a new calling.

"The Beltway is not an easy place to raise a family and the lure of making lots of money as a lobbyist is enticing," Tim said. "But I think we are making a real difference and God has shown Himself faithful. It's nice to know both you and your boss feel called to the same task."

by Ron Frost