Political operative and pundit Matt Towery has moved to Hall Booth Smith's government affairs practice, for its state and regional focus from a more nationally oriented practice at McKenna Long & Aldridge.
Towery joined Hall Booth as of counsel and as a managing director in the 15-person government affairs practice, which has expanded rapidly in the past few years as the firm transformed itself from an insurance defense firm to one with a more general business practice serving the entire state.
Towery, a Republican, will continue to run Insider Advantage, a polling and market research company, and serve as a political analyst for Fox 5 News while heading a partnership formed to manage his family's investments. Insider Advantage publishes James Magazine, Insider Advantage Georgia and, from Washington, the Southern Political Report. Towery also writes a weekly column distributed by Creators Syndicate.
"I've almost always kept my affiliation with a law firm while I ran Insider Advantage," said Towery, who took a hiatus from McKenna, which was then Long Aldridge & Norman, in 1997 to launch it. He rejoined McKenna in 2008.
Towery said McKenna's government affairs practice has grown from its early days rooted in Georgia to become national and global, which makes Hall Booth a better fit. "I want to help Hall Booth expand its Georgia and Southeastern presence with the goal of becoming more national down the road," Towery said.
"I think McKenna is a world-class law firm, but I couldn't do the national-type work they need and concentrate on my own business."
Brad Carver, head of Hall Booth's government affairs practice, said the firm recruited Towery to expand the practice from its Georgia roots to the Southeast, specifically Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina.
"He takes us to another level," Carver said. "Matt can help us in those three states and in Washington," he said, noting that Hall Booth does not have a Washington office.
Hall Booth Smith has seven Georgia offices, plus outposts in North Palm Beach, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., Charleston, S.C., and the Republic of Georgia.
Carver made a move like Towery's when he joined Hall Booth in 2006 from Alston & Bird, bringing a team of lawyers handling government affairs, energy and environmental law as the firm broadened beyond insurance defense.
Right now, almost all the principals in Hall Booth Smith's government affairs practice are Republicans, including Carver, who has held various leadership positions in the party. Michael Meyer von Bremen is the only Democrat among the principals. He served in the state senate from 1999 to 2009, where he was the minority leader.
Carver is the registered lobbyist for a mix of businesses, government entities and trade associations, including Gwinnett Hospital System, Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, Scana Energy, St. Andrews Plantation, Supreme Court of Georgia and Gold's Gyms of Georgia.
While Hall Booth's government affairs practice has a high concentration of Republicans, Towery said he views the practice as bipartisan—an outlook that McKenna adopted when Georgia started to shift from Democratic to Republican-controlled.
Towery said he was the first Republican to join McKenna's government affairs practice in 1994. At the time he was serving as a Republican representative in the state House of Representatives, a post he held from 1992 to 1997, and as the campaign chairman for Newt Gingrich, which he did from 1992 to 1998, when Gingrich was in the U.S. Congress.
"That's where I learned this bipartisan concept. It makes life so much more enjoyable," Towery said. "I want to be at a firm that calls it like it is for its clients and has people on both sides of the aisle. I think Georgia is headed back to being much more bipartisan in the next four years."
A newlywed, Towery said he had a bipartisan wedding in July, with guests including Johnny Isakson, Roy Barnes, Tom Houck, Buddy Darden and Judson Hill.
Towery will advise clients as both a lawyer and a lobbyist. He said he'll register as a lobbyist if clients need representation at the state capitol, but that his work is generally more strategic, advising clients on public policy and regulatory issues that affect their business.
CORRECTION: This story has been changed to reflect the following corrections: The Sept. 10 story, “Hall Booth adds Towery to build government team's reach,” incorrectly said Hall Booth Smith has a Florida office in Tallahassee. The firm’s Florida office is in North Palm Beach. The story also incorrectly identified the firm as Hall Booth Smith & Slover.