Podesta Group

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Podesta Group, Inc.
Private
Industry Government and public relations
Founded 1988; 30 years ago (1988)
Founders
Defunct 2017
Headquarters Washington, D.C., U.S.
Key people
Kimberley Fritts (CEO)
Number of employees
70[citation needed]
Website www.podesta.com
Congressman Adam Schiff and lobbyist Heather Podesta at a party hosted by the Podesta Group in Washington, D.C.

The Podesta Group was a lobbying and public affairs firm based in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1988 by brothers John Podesta and Tony Podesta and has previously been known as Podesta Associates, podesta.com and PodestaMattoon.[1][2] John Podesta left the firm in 1993,[3] and Tony Podesta left the firm on October 30, 2017, after finding out about increased scrutiny of the firm.[4] The firm most recently reorganized in January 2007 after current Chairman Tony Podesta split with former business partner Dan Mattoon.[2]

Podesta Group represents American corporations as well as nonprofits and governments, and has "close ties to the Democratic Party and the Obama administration",[5] although its CEO Kimberley Fritts was identified in 2015 by the group as "a fixture in Republican politics", having worked for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.[citation needed] She resigned in November 2017 to establish her own firm, Cogent Strategies.

The firm reported earning US$27.4 million in lobbying fees in 2011.[6] In 2007, Chairman Tony Podesta was ranked by his peers as the third most influential lobbyist in Washington.[7]

On November 9, 2017, CEO Kimberley Fritts informed all employees that the Podesta Group would cease to exist at the end of the year. Employees were asked to clear out their desks and told that they may not be paid beyond November 15. On November 21, Podesta Group's website went offline being redirected to the personal website of Tony Podesta,[8] with the majority of the Podesta Group’s former principals having joined Cogent Strategies,[9] a new firm founded by Kimberley Fritts in November 2017.[10][11]

Lobbying and public affairs activities[edit]

The Podesta Group acted as a lobbyist for Egypt on US policies of concern, activities in Congress and the executive branch, and developments on the United States political scene generally, according to forms filed with the Department of Justice in 2009.[5][12]

Tony Podesta (left) with Senator Kay Hagan (center) and husband Chip (right) at a 2009 party hosted by Podesta Group

They also received $900,000 in revenue in 2011–2012 from the Brussels-based European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU), a group sympathetic to then–Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions.[13] As of October 2017, the Podesta Group is reported to be under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for potentially violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act in the course of its work for the ECMU. The Podesta Group was one of six lobbying firms that participated in a 2012–2014 public relations campaign organized by Paul Manafort on behalf of the ECMU and Ukraine's pro-Russian Party of Regions; the campaign was reportedly designed with the stated goal of improving Ukraine's standing among Western audiences as a possible prelude to Ukrainian membership in the European Union. A Podesta Group spokesman denied any wrongdoing.[14] On October 30, 2017, a federal grand jury unsealed the indictment of Manafort and his deputy Richard Gates. According to NBC News, the Podesta Group is mentioned in the indictment as one of the companies that lobbied on behalf of the Ukrainian government for Manafort and Gates. On that day, Tony Podesta stepped down as head of the Podesta Group.[15]

The Podesta Group also represented (as of 2016) the interests of Russia's largest financial institution, Sberbank of Russia, which controls approximately 30 percent of Russian banking assets.[16]

The Podesta Group also carried out public relations work for the government of Azerbaijan for a monthly fee of $60,000 plus expenses.[17]

In addition, the Podesta Group has been retained by Walmart, BP, and Lockheed Martin.[5] Other clients include Bank of America, the Cherokee Nation (casinos), National Public Radio, and the Republic of Kenya.[18][19][20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pear, Robert; Broder, John M. (September 5, 2000). "In a Lobby-Happy Washington, Politics Can Be Even Thicker Than Blood". The New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Sarasohn, Judy (November 2, 2006). "PodestaMattoon by Any Other Name..." The Washington Post. Retrieved November 18, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Podesta, John: Employment History". OpenSecrets.org. Washington: Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved October 31, 2017. 
  4. ^ Palmer, Anna. "Tony Podesta Stepping Down from Lobbying Giant amid Mueller Probe". Politico. Arlington, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved October 30, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c Elliott, Justin (January 28, 2011). "Who's Doing Mubarak's Bidding in Washington?". Salon. San Francisco, California. Archived from the original on November 3, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2017. 
  6. ^ Bogardus, Kevin; Leven, Rachel (January 20, 2012). "On K Street, 2011 Was Year to Forget". The Hill. Washington: Capitol Hill Publishing. Retrieved October 31, 2017. 
  7. ^ Eisler, Kim (June 1, 2007). "Hired Guns: The City's 50 Top Lobbyists". Washingtonian. Archived from the original on November 24, 2007. Retrieved November 18, 2007. 
  8. ^ https://www.podesta.com/
  9. ^ https://www.cogent-strategies.com/
  10. ^ Polantz, Katelyn (November 11, 2017). "Podesta Group on the verge of shuttering amid ties to Mueller probe". CNN. Retrieved November 12, 2017. 
  11. ^ Meyer, Theodoric (21 November 2017). "Former Podesta Group principal joins BGR". Politico. US. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  12. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (March 2, 2011). "Arab Unrest Puts Their Lobbyists in Uneasy Spot"Free access subject to limited trial, subscription normally required. The New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2016. 
  13. ^ Hosenball, Mark; Strobel, Warren (December 20, 2013). "With Cash, Ukraine's Political Foes Bring Fight to Washington". Reuters. Retrieved April 8, 2016. 
  14. ^ Winter, Tom; Ainsley, Julia (October 23, 2017). "Mueller Now Investigating Democratic Lobbyist Tony Podesta". NBC News. Retrieved October 25, 2017. 
  15. ^ Beavers, Olivia; Wilson, Megan R. (October 30, 2017). "Podesta Group One of the Companies Mentioned in Manafort Indictment: Report". The Hill. Washington: Capitol Hill Publishing. Retrieved October 30, 2017. 
  16. ^ Norton, Ben (November 5, 2016). "With Saudi and Russian Ties, Clinton Machine's Tentacles Are Far Reaching, According to Panama Papers". Salon. San Francisco, California. Retrieved October 31, 2017. 
  17. ^ Podesta Group (2014). "Amendment to Registration Statement Pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as Amended" (PDF). Washington: United States Department of Justice. Retrieved October 31, 2017. 
  18. ^ OpenSecrets.org[full citation needed]
  19. ^ "Georgia Hires Podesta Lobbying Firm". Civil Georgia. Tbilisi, Georgia. Retrieved April 8, 2016. 
  20. ^ Wilson, Megan R. (September 25, 2013). "Somali Bank Embroiled in Scandal Inks Contract with Lobby Firm". The Hill. Washington: Capitol Hill Publishing. Retrieved September 29, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

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