Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz’s government relations and public policy group has added James Dyer, a lobbyist who spent more than 30 years working in the White House and Congress earlier in his career.
As a senior adviser at Baker Donelson, Dyer will draw on several decades of government experience, including service in the House Appropriations Committee and work as deputy legislative affairs assistant for former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Dyer, who is not a lawyer, will work mainly with Baker Donelson’s clients in the defense, foreign policy and research sectors.
Dyer told The National Law Journal he thought President Donald Trump had not quite “drained the swamp” in Washington, D.C., as the president promised on the campaign trail, and he jokingly called himself a “swamp rat.”
“I’ve been a Republican all my life, but sometimes if you listen to me you can’t tell,” Dyer said.
He said GOP governance under Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a “totally different ball game” than when he arrived in Washington 47 years ago from the Northeast.
In the ensuing years, Dyer said the Republican Party lost its centrist lawmakers shortly before the Democrats’ own centrist members lost power.
The polarization of national politics has made Dyer’s job harder, he said. Government shutdowns and the threat of them are bad for business, as Dyer said his practice only does well when the appropriations process is working.
Dyer previously worked at the Podesta Group, before joining former Podesta Group chief executive Kimberley Fritts and several other Podesta alums when Fritts launched a new lobbying outfit, Cogent, late last year.
Dyer then chose to join Baker Donelson after considering various options at three or four other firms and the possibility that he could slowly retire. In the end, Dyer said he opted to join Baker Donelson because of his personal relationships spanning four decades with those working at the firm. Dyer worked with the late Howard Baker, the firm’s namesake, when Baker served as Reagan’s chief of staff in 1987.
With the midterm elections fast approaching and Republicans fretting over their majority in Congress, Dyer said he expected GOP lawmakers to want to spend as much time outside Washington as possible. But while he thinks the immediate threat of future federal government shutdowns in the Trump era could diminish because he views it as a “net loser” for both political parties, he said he doesn’t expect the government to stop lurching from one calamity to the next anytime soon.
“I have no reason to think this won’t continue,” Dyer said.