(Washington, D.C., United States of America)
Anthony Thomas Podesta (born October 24, 1943) is an American lobbyist best known for founding the Podesta Group. He was formerly one of Washington’s most powerful lobbyists and fundraisers.
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.
Career in lobbying and activism
By 2015, the Podesta Group was the third largest in Washington D.C. with revenue of approximately $30 million. Clients of the firm have included Google, Wells Fargo, General Electric, Boeing and the Washington trade group for the U.S. drug industry. 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. 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. In the 2016 presidential election, he raised money for Clinton. 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.
Podesta has lobbied for a variety of groups, including Bank of America, BP, and Egypt. 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. 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. The casino company sought to get the Vietnamese government to deregulate the gambling sector.
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.
Timeline of events
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.
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.
On October 30, 2017, Tony Podesta announced that he would leave the Podesta Group.
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.
On September 24, 2019, the Department of Justice concluded the probe of Tony Podesta with no charges.
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