In the previous entry, I described Podesta’s rise to power within the Democratic Party and the Clinton inner circle. Being a good politician, he straddled the line of loyalty between Hillary and Barack Obama. Obama and Clinton policies and tactics are classic textbook versions of his Center for American Progress (CAP) policies. This is a group conceived as a think tank that quickly evolved into an action tank.
After leaving the Obama transition team and forcing through CAP policies and their agenda, Podesta returned to running CAP and his lobbying firm, The Podesta Group. One can argue that the Obama administration perhaps miscalculated early on when they focused on health care reform whose real goal is universal health care- not lowering costs- a major objective of CAP since its inception. For Obama, this led to a public relations nightmare and political fiasco culminating in a repudiation of Obamacare when the GOP seized control of the House on promises of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Undeterred, it was Podesta who advised the Obama administration on how they could use the regulatory powers of the EPA to close coal-fired plants and to reduce carbon dioxide levels through executive orders, thus bypassing the legislative process. It was something that worked well with Clinton.
However, the hypocrisy in the war on fossil fuels becomes apparently muddled when personal gain is to be had. In 2010, environmental groups were trying to get the Obama administration to deter or ban the increased export of liquefied natural gas, a resource the country had in abundance. At least the environmental groups were arguing on principle: no more fossil fuels. Podesta advised the White House to resist these pressures and said that natural gas could be a viable bridge between coal and green energy. But, Podesta’s insistence was not based on some environmentalist principle; it was based on personal gain. A person becoming increasingly important in Democratic fundraising circles was Tom Steyer- a hedge fund manager- who had holdings in natural gas projects in the US and abroad. Natural gas was a bridge to Steyer’s increased coffers. This explains why Steyer, before announcing a $100 million pledge to fund Democrats in the 2014 midterms, first met with John Podesta and George Soros in the White House.
In 2011, Podesta became a one-day-a-week paid adviser to Hillary Clinton on foreign policy matters. This was the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring that forced Mubarek out of power in Egypt and put Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi into power. With Huma Abedin (formerly profiled) advising Hillary on ideological grounds and John Podesta advising her for personal reasons, Clinton’s State Department quickly embraced the Morsi regime. The following year John Podesta escorted a group of 50 American business leaders- ten of whom were clients of The Podesta Group- to Egypt and declared that country “open to business investment.” Meanwhile, with nary a word from the State Department, Morsi was silencing political and religious opposition while brutally repressing and destroying Coptic Christian churches and shrines.
Not to be outdone, in 2013 the Podesta Group landed another big foreign client- the government of Iraq. At the time, the Shiite led government had been getting close to Iran. Iraq was not silent about their reasons for choosing the Podesta Group- their links and access to Bill and Hillary Clinton and Vice-President Joe Biden. More interesting is his relationship with Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss. Over the years, Wyss had donated $4 million to CAP and over $110 million to various American Leftist organizations. His cause du jour seemed to be environmentalism. He had previously paid over $31 million for land in Montana to protect it from domestic energy exploration and had purchased over $4.25 million in energy leases in Wyoming which remain dormant, but in his control- all with the goal of denying domestic energy exploration and extraction. Like Steyer, this is not based on some lofty environmental goal, but towards his bottom line. The more energy produced domestically, the less his investments in energy production elsewhere see a return. It is believed that Wyss and Podesta are behind the Obama directive placing ANWR off limits by executive action.
Be reminded that this is the same Hansjorg Wyss who owned Synthes, a company indicted in Pennsylvania for conducting unapproved medical procedures without FDA approval on human subjects that cost three people their lives. Although Wyss escaped the law (as president, he approved the program), four company executives went to jail. Wyss himself paid a $23 million fine, then promptly sold the company for over $2 billion- not a bad profit while keeping yourself out of jail. As for John Podesta, he was paid $89,000 through the Podesta Group for his efforts. Wyss has also hired Holly Mcusic to lead his “environmental agenda” in the US. She was formerly in the Interior Department during the Clinton administration and is best known for using the American Antiquities Act as the largest federal land grab in the lower 48 in US history.
In the first visit by the Indian Prime Minister under Obama, his first stop was not the hotel room or the White House, but CAP headquarters where he met with now-President Neera Tanden (an Indian-American) and John Podesta. So why John Podesta? Because the government of India had recently hired the Podesta Group to represent their interests in the United States. Just recently, the Podesta Group landed another major international client and one with direct links to Hillary Clinton. Considered perhaps her only foreign policy success, recent reports of human rights violations in Myanmar have that “success story” on the ropes. So in order to spin that country’s slow slide back towards human rights violations, enter John Podesta to resurrect the Clinton “success.” For this the Podesta Group received an $840,000 check from the government of Myanmar.
While the Left and Hillary Clinton decry the influence of money in politics with her making it the centerpiece of her electoral reforms, whether through the Podesta Group or CAP, these Democratic groups are quite adept at influence peddling and making a personal profit along the way. Six major players, including Podesta, are former or current lobbyists. At the end of July, Heather Podesta, John’s ex-sister-in law, and herself the head of the largest female-operated lobbying firm in Washington, hosted a $2,700-a-head Hillary fundraiser with Queen Hillary as the invited guest.
It is one thing to rail against the Koch brothers who have pledged $900 million to the 2016 election and quite another to have a $40 billion organization passing itself off as a think tank in your corner. At the very least, they need to drop the pretense of playing on an uneven field. With connections and friends like John Podesta, Hillary’s brand of electoral reform will be personal wealth gain for her friends. How ironic that in 2013, Podesta formed the Washington Center for Equitable Growth- an organization dedicated to addressing income inequality. Gee- one wonders where those Leftist talking point comes from.