Lobby shop strikes gold with Wyden hire

A conservative-leaning K Street firm has landed one of the industry’s hottest commodities: a former staffer to new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

BGR Government Affairs hired Joshua S. Lamel, becoming one of the few lobby shops with a veteran of Wyden’s office on its payroll.

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The firm, formed by former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), only has one other Democratic lobbyist: campaign operative Jonathan Mantz.

Lamel will begin at the firm on March 3 as a vice president. He currently serves as the vice president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCI), and the executive director of the group’s foundation.

“After evaluating many opportunities, I decided to join BGR because I believe it offers the best foundation to build a strong practice while adding value to their impressive list of existing clients,” he said in a statement. “I am excited for the opportunity to join a great team that includes many of the best and most successful advocates in the business.”

Wyden’s ascent to Senate Finance chairman has set off a scramble among K Street firms that work with the powerful committee, which has wide jurisdiction over taxes and economic policy. While Wyden’s predecessor, former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), had an extensive network of former staffers working as lobbyists, few firms have a strong connection to the Oregon Democrat.

BGR Group is among the top 10 lobby firms in Washington by revenue, taking in $14.6 million last year. It was also among a small group of the top 20 firms that experienced an increase over 2012.

“Josh brings significant policy expertise to the table, and he is going to be a great member of the BGR team,” Barbour said in a statement.

Prior to joining CCI, Lamel led the technology practice at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, was a lobbyist for another tech trade group, TechAmerica, from 2008 until 2010, and worked as a chief of staff to former Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) from 2007 to 2008.

He worked for Wyden from 2005 to 2007, advising the senator on finance, budget and technology issues, including leading the Senate Budget Committee's Tax Gap working group, which “which identified ways to close the gap between revenue being collected by the Federal government and owed to the government,” according to a statement.

Lamel also helped the Senate Judiciary Committee members draft telecom reform, net-neutrality and digital copyright law legislation.

"Josh's background with the [Senate] Finance Committee and recognized expertise in the technology sector will immediately help BGR's clients impact many of the most challenging public policy issues including tax reform, trade expansion, pensions and intellectually property," Mantz said.