Tony Podesta

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Tony Podesta
Tony Podesta 2009.jpg
Podesta in 2009
Anthony Thomas Podesta

(1943-10-24) October 24, 1943 (age 79)
Alma materUniversity of Illinois at Chicago (BA)
M.I.T. (MA)
Georgetown University (JD)
Known forCo-founded the Podesta Group
Spouse(s)Heather Podesta
(m. 2003; div. 2014)
RelativesJohn Podesta (brother)

Anthony Thomas Podesta (born October 24, 1943) is an American lobbyist best known for founding the Podesta Group.[1][2] The brother of former White House Chief of staff John Podesta, he was formerly one of Washington's most powerful lobbyists and fundraisers.[3][4][5]

Podesta and the Podesta Group were under federal investigation regarding compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act for their work for a Ukrainian group tied to the pro-Russian former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych beginning in 2012. The investigation was closed in September 2019 without charges being brought.[6] In 2021, Podesta was reportedly hired by Huawei as a lobbyist and consultant.[7][8]

Life and career[edit]

Podesta was born in Chicago, where he was raised, with his Greek-American mother Mary, first-generation Italian American immigrant father John Sr., and his brother John Podesta Jr.[9] His father was a factory worker.[9] He studied political science both in college, at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and in graduate school at MIT. He received his J.D. degree from Georgetown University.[9]

As Student Congress President, Podesta spoke at the opening ceremony of the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle campus (now UIC) on February 22, 1965.[10]

He was married to congressional staffer and lobbyist Heather Miller Podesta from 2003 to 2014.[9]

Early campaigns[edit]

While studying at MIT in 1968, Podesta left school to work on the presidential campaign of Senator Eugene McCarthy, for whom he did field work and ran the scheduling advance operation in California and other states.[11] After McCarthy lost the Democratic nomination to Hubert Humphrey, Podesta organized students on behalf of the Humphrey-Muskie campaign.[11]

McCarthy was the first of several losing Democrat politicians that Podesta campaigned for. Others included Joe Duffey for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut in 1970,[9] Ed Muskie and then George McGovern for president in 1972, Ted Kennedy in 1980, Walter Mondale's presidential campaign in 1984, and Michael Dukakis in 1988, the same year the Podesta brothers founded their lobbying firm.[12]

Career in lobbying and activism[edit]

In 1981, Tony Podesta became a founding president of People for the American Way, a secular liberal group started by television producer Norman Lear. He led the group until 1987.

Podesta's lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, had more than $40 million in annual revenue at its peak at the time of the Obama administration.[9]

In 1988 Tony and John Podesta founded Podesta Associates, which became PodestaMattoon when Republican Daniel Mattoon joined the team in 2001. The name was again changed to the Podesta Group when Mattoon left in 2006.[13]

By 2015, the Podesta Group was the third largest in Washington, D.C., with revenue of approximately $30 million.[9] Clients of the firm have included Google, Wells Fargo, General Electric, Boeing and the Washington trade group for the U.S. drug industry.[9] The firm had a number of foreign governments as clients, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Iraq and the government of South Sudan.[9] According to The Wall Street Journal, Podesta's lobbying firm performed well in 2015, because clients believed that he had access to a future Hillary Clinton administration.[9] In the 2016 presidential election, he raised money for Clinton.[9] Fundraising records show that over the course of a decade Podesta and his wife Heather donated more to the Democratic Party and its candidates than any other lobbyists.[9]

Podesta has lobbied for a variety of groups, including Bank of America, BP,[2] and Egypt.[14] More recently, he has worked for Pennsylvania Democratic representatives Joe Sestak, Chris Carney, and Patrick Murphy, and chaired former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell's reelection campaign.[15] In 2016, Podesta was on the board of a Vietnamese casino company run by an American businessman who had been barred from the securities industry in United States for defrauding customers.[16] The casino company sought to get the Vietnamese government to deregulate the gambling sector.[16]

Senator Kay Hagan, Tony Podesta and Heather Podesta at a party hosted by the Podesta Group in Washington, D.C., in honor of the inauguration of Barack Obama, January 2009

On July 23, 2021, Huawei reportedly hired Podesta as consultant and lobbyist, with a goal of nurturing the company's relationship with the Biden administration.[7][8]


In 2017, Tony Podesta came under scrutiny for failing to disclose the extent of his political work for a Ukrainian group tied to both adviser Paul Manafort and to the pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2012.[17][18][19]

Timeline of events[edit]

In April 2017, the Podesta Group retroactively filed new lobbying reports with the Justice Department that revealed more about its work for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU), a center founded by three senior members of the pro-Russia Party of Regions.[19][18][17]

On October 23, 2017, Tony Podesta was reportedly facing criminal inquiry in Robert Mueller's investigation regarding this lobbying campaign which ran between 2012 and 2014.[20][21][22]

On October 30, 2017, Tony Podesta announced that he would leave the Podesta Group.[23][24]

On July 31, 2018, it was reported that Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta was referred by special counsel Robert Mueller to federal prosecutors for investigation in New York.[25][26]

On September 24, 2019, the Department of Justice concluded the probe of Tony Podesta with no charges.[27]


  1. ^ " Anthony Thomas Podesta".
  2. ^ a b "Lobbyist Says It's Not About Influence". The New York Times. July 1, 2010. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  3. ^ "Hired Guns: The City's 50 Top Lobbyists". The Washingtonian. 1 June 2007. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007.
  4. ^ "The Uber Lobbyists of Washington". Bloomberg Businessweek. 2009.
  5. ^ "Top Lobbyists: Hired Guns". The Hill. 2011.
  6. ^ "US Probe of Lobbyists Podesta and Weber Ends Without Charges". Associated Press. September 24, 2019 – via
  7. ^ a b Lipman, Daniel; Swan, Betsy Woodruff (2021-07-23). "Huawei hiring former Democratic super lobbyist Tony Podesta". Politico. Retrieved 2021-07-23.
  8. ^ a b Vogel, Kenneth P. (2021-07-23). "Tony Podesta is hired to lobby by Huawei and a Bulgarian energy company". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-07-30.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Mullins, Brody; Bykowicz, Julie (2018-04-18). "How Tony Podesta, a Washington Power Broker, Lost It All". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  10. ^ "Circle Campus Opening". UIC ARCHIVES - Exhibits. UIC Archives. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  11. ^ a b Don Nicoll (Sep 2002). "Interview with Anthony "Tony" Podesta" (PDF). Bates College.
  12. ^ Rachel Van Dongen (Nov 2009). "Profile – Tony Podesta". Washington Post.
  13. ^ Sarasohn, Judy (2 November 2006). "PodestaMattoon By Any Other Name..." Washington Post.
  14. ^ "Who's doing Mubarak's bidding in Washington?". January 28, 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  15. ^ Sara Miles (Dec 1999). "Do YOU Know Tony Podesta?". Wired.
  16. ^ a b "The Hidden Hand of a Casino Company in Trump's Contact with Vietnam — "Trump, Inc." Podcast — ProPublica". ProPublica. Justin Elliott. 2018-04-25. Retrieved 2018-04-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  17. ^ a b Beavers, Olivia; Wilson, Megan R. (2017-10-30). "Podesta Group one of the companies mentioned in Manafort indictment: report". The Hill. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  18. ^ a b "Podesta Group files new disclosures in Manafort-linked Ukraine lobbying". POLITICO. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  19. ^ a b Investigates, Thomas Frank, CNN. "Podesta lobby group did not disclose extent of work for Ukrainian campaign advised by Paul Manafort". CNN. Retrieved 2017-10-30. {{cite news}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  20. ^ Prokop, Andrew (2017-10-30). "Tony Podesta is stepping down from his lobbying firm, after scrutiny from Mueller investigation". Vox. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  21. ^ "Robert Mueller's probe is now looking into a Democratic lobbyist". Newsweek. 2017-10-23. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  22. ^ "Mueller now investigating Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta". NBC News. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  23. ^ Palmer, Anna. "Tony Podesta stepping down from lobbying giant amid Mueller probe". Politico. Retrieved October 30, 2017.
  24. ^ Overby, Peter (2017-11-15). "'Drain The Swamp'? Hardly. Washington Appears More Stuck In The Muck Than Ever". NPR. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  25. ^ Kirby, Jen (2018-07-31). "Report: Robert Mueller referred lobbyists, including Tony Podesta, to Manhattan prosecutors". Vox. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  26. ^ Wang, Christine (2018-07-31). "Federal prosecutors said to be investigating lobbyist Tony Podesta after special counsel referral". CNBC. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  27. ^ "Department of Justice probe of lobbyists Tony Podesta and Vin Weber concludes with no charges". Retrieved 2019-10-11.

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