TVA board nominee Ryder says politicking won’t overly influence his service

Memphis attorney John Ryder assured U.S. senators on Tuesday that his active involvement in Republican politics would not overly influence his decisions as a member of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board of directors, reports Michael Collins.

“I fully appreciate that the role of a member of the board of TVA is outside of politics,” Ryder said during his confirmation hearing.

At the same time, Ryder said, “my political experience has given me greater appreciation for the wants, needs and aspirations of those served by TVA.”

Ryder was nominated in February by President Donald Trump to serve on the utility’s nine-member board. If confirmed, he would serve through May 2021 and would replace Michael McWherter, a Democrat whose term has expired.

While he has no experience in the public utility sector, Ryder has been a longtime Republican operative. He has served as general counsel to the Republican National Committee, as chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party and served four times as a delegate to the Republican National Convention. (Note: Also as Tennessee’s national committeeman on the RNC.)

At Tuesday’s hour-long hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., cited Ryder’s lack of experience in electric power generation and noted that it would seem unusual for someone with his background to be nominated to the board of a public utility that serves 9 million customers. He asked for assurance that Ryder would approach the job “with no preconceptions and not as an agent for fossil fuel influence within TVA.”

…Asked by Whitehouse if he accepts that carbon emissions contribute to climate change, Ryder said he isn’t well versed in the science on that issue but added, “I’m in favor of clean air and water.”

…Ryder was introduced at the hearing by Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both of whom are backing his nomination.

Note: Alexander’s press release praising Ryder is HERE.

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