|Counselor to the President|
January 1, 2014 – February 13, 2015
|Preceded by||Pete Rouse|
|20th White House Chief of Staff|
October 20, 1998 – January 20, 2001
|Preceded by||Erskine Bowles|
|Succeeded by||Andrew Card|
|White House Deputy Chief of Staff|
January 1997 – October 1998
|Preceded by||Evelyn Lieberman|
|Succeeded by||Steve Ricchetti|
|Born||John David Podesta
January 8, 1949
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Alma mater||Knox College
Podesta previously served as Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton and Counselor to President Barack Obama. He is the former president and now Chair and Counselor of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C., and is also a Visiting Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. He was a co-chairman of the Obama-Biden Transition Project.
Podesta spent most of his early years in Chicago, where he was born, growing up in the neighborhood of Jefferson Park on the city's Northwest Side. His mother, Mary (née Kokoris), was Greek-American, and his father, John David Podesta, Sr., was Italian-American. Tony Podesta, a lobbyist, is his brother. Podesta's father did not graduate from high school, but encouraged Podesta to attend college.
In 1967, Podesta graduated from Lane Technical High School in Chicago. In 1971, he graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he had served as a volunteer for the presidential candidacy of Eugene McCarthy. He attended Georgetown University Law Center and graduated in 1976. Podesta worked as a trial attorney for the Department of Justice's Honors Program in the Land and Natural Resources Division (1976–77), and as a Special Assistant to the Director of ACTION, the Federal volunteer agency (1978–1979). His political career began in 1972, when he worked for George McGovern's presidential campaign, which lost in 49 states.
On June 6, 1998, during his Knox College commencement address, Podesta spoke of his family's early days: "Let me close with a couple of thoughts. Permit me what my kids would refer to as an ethnic moment. One month ago I stood on the White House lawn, and I watched as President Clinton, the man I'm proud to work for, greeted the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi. It caused me to think about my grandparents, who came to America from Italy at the turn of the century and struggled their whole lives, never attending school, living in a walkup tenement in downtown Chicago. My grandfather working as a stevedore. And I thought about my father, who had to quit high school after one year to support his family, who worked in factories his whole life, but who kept pushing my brother and myself to get a good education. I realized that I couldn't have been on that lawn without the support—quite literally the scholarship and financial support, but as importantly, the educational and emotional support—that Knox College gave me."
Podesta held positions on Capitol Hill, including Counselor to Democratic Leader Senator Thomas Daschle (1995–1996); Chief Counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee (1987–1988); Chief Minority Counsel for the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks; Security and Terrorism; and Regulatory Reform; and Counsel on the Majority Staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee (1979–1981). In 1988, he and his brother Tony co-founded Podesta Associates, Inc., a Washington, D.C., "government relations and public affairs" lobbying firm. Now known as the Podesta Group, the firm "has close ties to the Democratic Party and the Obama administration [and] has been retained by some of the biggest corporations in the country, including Wal-Mart, BP and Lockheed Martin." He served as a member of the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, and the United States Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy.
The Clinton years
Podesta served as both an Assistant to the President and as Deputy Chief of Staff. Earlier, from January 1993 to 1995, he was Assistant to the President, Staff Secretary and a senior policy adviser on government information, privacy, telecommunications security and regulatory policy. In 1998 he became President Clinton's Chief of Staff in the second Clinton Administration and executed the position until the end of Clinton's time in office in January 2001. He had a key role in introducing Executive Order 12958 which led to efforts to declassify millions of pages from the U.S. diplomatic and national security history. He also oversaw Clinton's pardons in the last days of his administration.
Podesta founded and is currently Chair of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C., and Counselor to the Center for American Progress Action Fund. In addition to his work at American Progress, Podesta is currently a Visiting Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, his alma mater, where he has taught classes on Congressional investigations and technology law and policy. He is also a member of the Constitution Project's bipartisan Liberty and Security Committee.
In 2008, Podesta authored his book The Power of Progress: How America's Progressives Can (Once Again) Save Our Economy, Our Climate, and Our Country. In 2009, he accompanied former President Clinton to North Korea for negotiations securing the release of two American journalists imprisoned on espionage charges. He can be seen in numerous widely circulated photographs of Clinton meeting with Kim Jong-il.
Podesta has supported efforts from the UFO research community to pressure the United States government to release files to the public that could bring light on the simmering allegations of conspiracies and cover-up of the issue. At a 2002 news conference organized by Coalition for Freedom of Information Podesta stated that, "It is time for the government to declassify records that are more than 25 years old and to provide scientists with data that will assist in determining the real nature of this phenomenon".
Podesta became an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society in March 2006. Podesta remains on the Board of Trustees of Knox College. Currently, Podesta is the U.S. representative to the UN High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
In 2013, Podesta was paid $87,000 as a "consultant" by Hansjörg Wyss, a Wyoming-based Swiss citizen, reportedly the second-wealthiest man in Switzerland, who lobbies to prevent energy exploration on American land. Podesta has been described as "the driving force inside the White House to block 12 million acres of land in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling ... [he] emerged as one of the architects of the new White House policy that seeks to end any future drilling for oil on Alaska's coastal plain." Wyss has donated at least $4 million to Podesta's Center for American Progress (CAP), and holds a seat on its Board. Podesta worked at Wyss's HJW Foundation in 2013 and joined the White House in January 2014. Federal conflict of interest rules overseen by the Office of Government Ethics also instruct political appointees to “not work on any matter” if the work of their previous employer “would raise a question regarding the employee's impartiality”. The law applies to White House officials and it is not known if Podesta ever sought or received a waiver. A 2013 article in The Nation named CAP as being “among the most secretive of all think tanks concerning its donors.” 2013 tax documents from the HJW Foundation and the Wyss Foundation show that Wyss contributed $1.5 million to CAP in that year alone.
- Lawton, Kim (October 8, 2004). "Catholic Voters". Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. WNET. Retrieved Apr 3, 2011.
- "Washington Post". Who Runs Gov. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
- "John Podesta to leave White House post in February". Politico. January 13, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
- Talev, Margaret (December 10, 2013). "Obama to Name Former Clinton Official Podesta as Special Adviser". BusinessWeek. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
- "Obama, McCain Transition Efforts Are Worlds Apart". Huffington Post. October 8, 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
- Sweet, Lynn (November 6, 2008). "All-business Obama begins transition to White House". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Fusco, Chris (March 12, 2007). "Cooking, wit nourished D.C. Dem elite: Younger son was chief of staff to Bill Clinton". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Crispin, Jessa. "Podesta: Progressive Politics Will Cure U.S. Ills". NPR. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
- Pear, Robert; Broder, John M. (September 5, 2000). "In a Lobby-Happy Washington, Politics Can Be Even Thicker Than Blood". The New York Times.
- Baker, Peter (February 15, 2015). "For Hillary Clinton, John Podesta Is a Right Hand With a Punch". New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
- Podesta, John. "During a guest appearance on Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me, broadcast on 17 May 2014".
- Knox College Commencement Address, deptorg.knox.edu, June 6, 1998; accessed February 16, 2015.
- Elliott, Justin (January 28, 2011) "Who's doing Mubarak's bidding in Washington?", salon.com; accessed February 16, 2015.
- "Georgetown Law Courses - Congressional Investigations Seminar". Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- "The Constitution Project - The Liberty and Security Committee". Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Norman, Tony (December 2, 2008). "Change is coming (but not for space aliens)". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
- "UFO enthusiasts urge Obama to release X-Files about alien sightings". Daily Mail (London, UK). November 30, 2008. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
- Shipman, Tim (November 30, 2008). "UFO enthusiasts call on Obama to release X-Files". The Daily Telegraph (London, UK). Retrieved December 23, 2008.
- "Board of Trustees". Knox.edu. December 15, 1957. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
- "UN Secretary-General appoints high-level panel on post-2015 development agenda". United Nations Development Programme. July 31, 2012. Retrieved 2014-01-17.
- "Obama adviser John Podesta caught 'green-handed' in major ethics violation", dailycaller.com, January 29, 2015.
- Clinton, Bill (2005). My Life. Vintage. ISBN 1-4000-3003-X.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Podesta.|
- Founder and Chair of the Center for American Progress
- Faculty profile at Georgetown Law School
- Profile at the U.S. Department of State
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- John Podesta at the Internet Movie Database
- Works by or about John Podesta in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- John Podesta collected news and commentary at Bloomberg News
- John Podesta collected news and commentary at The Washington Post
- The Power of Progress Book Forum on Facebook
- Knox College Commencement Address June 6, 1998
|White House Chief of Staff
|Counselor to the President