Nearly 13 months after he was first nominated by President Trump, Memphis attorney John Ryder was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Thursday as the newest member of the TVA board.
Ryder, a former chief counsel to the Republican National Committee and partner in the Memphis law firm of Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh, will assume the seat vacated nearly two years ago by Mike McWherter, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Tennessee.
Ryder's term runs through 2021 on the 9-member TVA board, which currently has only seven members. Trump has yet to nominate a candidate to fill the other vacant seat on the TVA board.
Ryder's first public meeting with the full TVA board will be on May 9 when the TVA governing board meets in Franklin, Tennessee.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate energy and public works subcommittee that oversees TVA, praised Ryder as "a respected leader in Shelby County and in our state.
"I was glad to recommend that President Trump nominate John for the TVA Board, and despite being unanimously confirmed by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senate Democrats inexcusably held up his confirmation for more than a year," Alexander said. "John is the right person to help keep TVA on a good path – he understands that TVA's mission is to continue to provide clean, reliable electricity at the lowest possible rates for homes and businesses throughout the seven-state Tennessee Valley region."
Ryder was among nearly 200 nominations for different federal agencies Trump sent to Congress last year that were not confirmed in the 115th congress. Trump renominated Ryder for the TVA board in January.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga, said Ryder "is an exceptionally qualified individual with a resume detailing his career as a highly regarded lawyer and philanthropist."
"Today is a great day in the Volunteer State because the Senate voted to confirm John Ryder to the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority," Fleischmann said in a statement today.
Like most of the other directors appointed to the TVA board, Ryder has no prior experience in the electric utility industry. But in his confirmation hearing last year, Ryder said his political and legal experience "has given me greater appreciation for the wants, needs and aspirations of those served by TVA."
Ryder was named the 2016 Republican Lawyer of the Year by the Republican National Lawyers Association and he was recognized by Business Tennessee magazine as among the best 101 lawyers in Tennessee. He was elected as the National Committeeman for Tennessee for the Republican National Party in 1996 and again in 2008.
Ryder is a widely acknowledged national expert on political redistricting and election law and was involved in a number of state legal cases.
Ryder's legal practice specializes in bankruptcy and commercial law and he has served as Shelby County Delinquent Tax Attorney, as a member of the Shelby County Home Rule Charter Commission, as chairman of the board of Opera Memphis and as co-chairman of the Southern Region and director of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.
Ryder has been a delegate four times to Republican National Conventions.
TVA's part-time directors are paid $51,005 a year and oversee the operations of the federal utility, which is America's biggest government-owned utility with annual revenues of more than $10 billion.
With the addition of Ryder, TVA will have three directors from Tennessee and one each from Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.