John Podesta and Hillary Clinton, as most know, are practically tied at the hip. Podesta has served as White House Chief of Staff under Bill Clinton and then as a Counselor to Barack Obama, which also involved ample interaction with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He also had a leading hand in organizing and strategizing the Hillary Clinton campaign for the presidency before and during 2016, even coming out as the face of defeat, announcing the Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be giving a concession speech on the night of the election.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Podesta had plenty to lose as the result of Donald Trump’s presidential victory, much like the woman he was advising. John, along with his brother Tony, were integral cogs in fundraising for the Clinton campaign, using their Podesta Group as a lobbying tool in ways that were, let’s say, controversial.
Even left-leaning outlets such as the Huffington Post have reported how Tony Podesta, known to be extremely close to his brother, was registered as a foreign agent with the Saudi government, and the Podesta Group was even hired by the Gulf nation in a move that can be seen as nothing but building political capital in the instance that Hillary Clinton won the election. That meant that the group received $140,000 a month from Saudi Arabia, a reality that should alarm any Democracy-respecting individual. Additionally, the Podesta Group was found to be in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act after it was revealed that Tony Podesta had worked with Paul Manafort’s lobbying group in an effort to legitimize former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, which essentially means that Podesta, and by extension his firm, was working on behalf of Yanukovych.
Since the Podesta Group was involved in putting a positive spin on Viktor Yanukovych, he has had a warrant issued for his arrest due to the “mass murder of peaceful citizens”. He is also, ironically, known for being pro-Russian and essentially a puppet of Vladimir Putin, one of the primary reasons Ukrainians took up arms against his regime. The Podesta Group couldn’t have picked a nicer guy as the linchpin of their violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
All of this foreign governmental association with the Podesta Group led many to the conclusion that they were engaging in pay for play on some level, assuming that Hillary would win the election. To draw distinctions between the Group, John Podesta, and Hillary Clinton is to fundamentally misunderstand the ties between the three. So, when Hillary Clinton lost, it was natural that the Podesta Group would see a drop off in financial investments, especially from foreign powers. But, the fallout was so great that the firm would shut down completely not long after the election, and according to a Wall Street Journal report, the details of the Podesta Group’s many ills are far deeper than most ever knew. The instantaneousness of the collapse only goes to solidify beliefs that, without Clinton’s influence in the White House, the firm had no real reason to exist at all.
The details of how the firm was run paint a picture of a disingenuous Podesta acting dishonestly with regularity, and treating his employees with seeming disdain. That includes broken promises about allowing employees to invest in a piece of the firm.
‘Firm employees approached Mr. Podesta in early 2014 about selling them a share of the business. The Podesta Group was worth at least $50 million at the time, former employees estimated. Over dinner, Mr. Podesta told them he was open to the idea and suggested they meet with lawyers.
On the day of the meeting, employees gathered in the firm’s conference room. Mr. Podesta didn’t show.’ (WSJ)
Then there’s the dishonest treatment of his clients. It was reported that Tony Podesta, while working on behalf of tire maker Michelin, received $113,500 a year from Italian tire maker – and competitor – Pirelli, unbeknownst to his fellow lobbyist employees or Michelin. Anything to make a buck…
A similar situation unfolded when Sun Trust decided to cut ties with the Podesta Group after discovering that the firm had also been working on behalf of an unnamed Russian banking subsidiary that had faced sanctions from the U.S. government. One employee’s email suggests that this was not the first time Podesta had compromised a major client by acting less than honestly.
‘SunTrust Banks Inc. sought to sever ties with the firm over the sanctioned Russian bank. The Podesta Group’s chief executive sent an exasperated email to a colleague. “Tony thinks these types of clients have no repercussions on the firm,” she said, but “this should really provide evidence that we have to take the clients we bring on seriously.”’
Then, there was the mass, post-election exodus. And the reality that Tony, who wasn’t willing to put up his massive, bizarre art collection as collateral for the firm’s mounting debts, which included rent, wasn’t all that attached to the firm or the people who paid their bills by working there.
‘With clients leaving, the Podesta Group had no money. Rent was due the next day. One idea was to use Mr. Podesta’s art collection as collateral for a loan, but he refused.
“At that time, it was inadvisable to provide additional guarantees as an individual for the obligations of the corporation,” the Podesta Group’s spokeswoman said.’
Why compromise art when it’s so much easier to lay off employees?
‘The Podesta Group’s chief financial officer sent Mr. Podesta a 7:23 p.m. email: “If we don’t have collateral pledged prior to 5pm tomorrow, we will be in default.” If the firm went into default, the CFO wrote, “we will not be able to meet our rent, your art payments, ad campaigns, and most importantly payroll.”
Mr. Podesta responded: “need list of next 5 layoffs,” among other questions. The next day, he left for an art show in Turin, Italy. The bank’s deadline passed.’
But, even with such obvious signs of collapse, Podesta seemed to think that it would pass.
‘The string of embarrassing news accounts disturbed many of the Podesta Group’s corporate clients, companies that preferred to stay clear of such publicity. Mr. Podesta operated as if the whole mess would soon blow over.’ (WSJ)
Until, of course, it didn’t pass. And the firm shuttered its doors, making the lobbying world a far better place, and hopefully closing the chapter for good on one of the shadiest firms that American politics has ever seen.