Beltway Bandit Named Senior Obama Adviser

John Podesta

Stephen Lendman
Activist Post

On December 11, Obama named John Podesta senior “counselor to the president.” According to the White House, he’ll mainly advise on energy, climate, and healthcare issues.

Expect him to heavily involved in others. One of his many tasks will be selling Obamacare.

He’s is a longtime Washington insider. In the 1980s, he was legal counsel for various congressional committees. He once served as former senate majority leader Tom Daschle’s chief of staff. He’s known as a veteran Washington fixer.

In 1988, he and his brother, Anthony, founded the Podesta Group. It’s a Washington-based corporate lobbying/PR company. It’s still operating. Anthony is chairman. Kimberley Fritts is CEO. John Podesta remained a registered lobbyist/hired gun at least into 2006. He currently or previously served on three or more corporate boards.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz lied saying “(h)is appointment and background (are) completely consistent with the administration’s ethics pledge, which was never intended to ban anyone who works in the public policy space from joining government service.”

To the contrary, he is exactly the kind of person you hope to attract to public service.”

Podesta’s so-called “public policy space” is precisely what candidate Obama promised to exclude from his administration if elected. He vowed to exclude lobbyists.

Throughout his tenure, Podesta visited the White House dozens of times. He’s been an informal adviser. He’ll now perform services officially.

Since 2009, Obama hired dozens lobbyists. In his 2010 State of the Union address, he lied saying he “excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs.”

In October 2011, longtime Wall Street lobbyist Broderick Johnson became his senior campaign adviser. His IRS general counsel, William Wilkins, lobbied for the Swiss Bankers Association.

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn represented Raytheon. Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff lobbied for Fannie Mae. He did so during the housing boom.

Obama promised to accept no lobby group’s campaign contributions. He’s taken millions of dollars throughout his tenure.

More promises made. More broken. His change to believe in reflects business as usual. It’s been that way since day one in office.

Podesta is the latest example. He’s a notorious beltway bandit.

From 1998 – 2001, he was Clinton’s chief of staff. In 2008, he co-chaired Obama’s transition team.

He’s a visiting Georgetown University law professor. Imagine what he teaches his students. In 2003, he founded the Center for American Progress (CAP). It’s Washington based.

Neera Tanden heads it. She served under Bill Clinton. She was involved in energy, healthcare and other issues. She was Obama’s 2008 campaign domestic policy director.

Tom Perriello heads CAP’s Progress Action Fund. From 2009 until January 3, 2011, he represented Virginia’s 5th congressional district in the House of Representatives.

Other staff members include Carol Browner. In 1992, she was Clinton’s transition team director. From 1993 to 2001, she was Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head.

During Obama’s first term, she headed his Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy. She’s a founding Albright Group member. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright heads it.

It’s a “global strategy group.” It’s a corporate lobbying firm. It represents Coca-Cola and Merck among other clients. It’s now called the Albright Stonebridge Group. It’s affiliated with Albright Capital Management.

Clinton’s former National Security Advisor Samuel Berger is involved. So are other notorious Washington insiders.

Former Boeing lobbyist, Rudy deLeon, is CAP senior vice president for national security and international policy.

In 2007, the Podesta Group ranked third among Washington’s most influential lobbying groups. It represents a rogue’s gallery of corporate crooks.

They include Wal-Mart, BP, Lockheed Martin, Bank of America, Citigroup, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, Verizon, The Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Nestle, Pfizer, Norvartis, and Sallie Mae among others.

It represents Egypt, Albania, the Republic of Georgia, Orange County, CA, the National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio.

CAP receives millions of dollars in annual funding. George Soros, Warren Buffett, and other super-rich elites provide it. So do corporate foundations, various business interests and other sources.

According to Sourcewatch:

In March 2009, CAP strongly supported Barack Obama’s escalation of the US wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It “issu(ed) a report titled Sustainable Security in Afghanistan by Lawrence J. Korb, Caroline Wadhams, Colin Cookman and Sean Duggan.”

Sourcewatch calls CAP “perhaps Washington’s most influential idea factory in the age of Obama.”

It “launch(ed) a major new war room.” It’s “staffed by nearly a dozen people.” It “focus(es) on driving the White House’s message and agenda.”

It’s called Progressive Media. It’s involved in “complex policy questions.” It develops talking points and narratives. It promotes them publicly.

Tara McGuinness heads the initiative. She’s a former John Kerry presidential campaign press secretary.

She worked on various House and Senate issues. She was involved in selling Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Podesta is a longtime business as usual operative dressed up in deceptive progressive mumbo jumbo. He became known as Clinton’s fixer. His role is similar for Obama.

Even The New York Times is skeptical. On December 12, it headlined “New Obama Adviser Brings Corporate Ties.” It named Eli Lilly, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Northrup Grumman. It could have included a dozen or two more.

It said CAP “at times bemoaned what it called the harmful impact of major reductions in Pentagon spending.” Its web site headlined “Sequestration Nation: Defense Department Furloughs Pack a Mean Punch,” saying:

(D)efense cuts will negatively affect efforts ranging from fighting wildfires to military preparedness.

CAP expressed angst about defense contractors potentially losing business. It lobbies for General Dynamics and Northrup Grumman among others. It’s job is to represent their bottom line priorities.

Podesta is an influential corporate lobbyist. He “arrive(s) at the White House after having run an organization that has taken millions of dollars in corporate donations in recent years and has its own team of lobbyists who have pushed an agenda that sometimes echoes the interests of these corporate supporters,” said The Times.

CAP officials disingenuously claim corporate donations don’t “impact on the policy positions it advocates,” The Times added. They’re given solely for wanting plenty in return. No other reason. Most often they return much more than what’s contributed. That’s how business as usual works.

In May, Ken Silverstein headlined his Nation magazine article “Corporate Influence at the Center for American Progress?” He noted how at that time it “skirt(ed) questions about its donors.” CAP “woo(s)” corporate donors, said Silverstein.

It “pitched the Saudis for funding…in 2011.” In 2013, it released its donor list for the first time.

Podesta replaces former Obama interim White House chief of staff/current counselor to the president Peter Rouse. He’s leaving.

Business as usual continues. John Stauber calls the so-called progressive movement Podesta and others like him represent “a PR front for rich Democrats.”

It’s mainly “one big propaganda campaign serving the political interests of the Democratic Party’s richest one-percent who created it.”

As the right becomes more extreme, this Democratic Party cum non-profit industrial complex moves further and further to the right itself.

There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between either party on issues mattering most.

Podesta’s job involves making destructive administration social, economic, and political policies sound like the best of all possible worlds.

Given today’s deplorable worsening conditions, it remains to be seen how successful he is going forward.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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