What people pay Tony Podesta $1,000 an hour to do
Tony Podesta is in the news because he lobbies for BP, public enemy No. 1 in President Obama’s Washington after a BP-rented oil rig blew up and started gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico 63 days ago.
Podesta and his wife Heather aren’t just any lobbyists. Tony’s brother John — who now heads the liberal think tank Center for American Progress — led Obama’s transition team and has been dubbed the “shadow president” because of his close ties to the White House. Tony and Heather Podesta each have visited the White House seven times, according to public visitor logs.
Tony Podesta’s last quarterly filing shows that clients he personally represented paid his firm $3.5 million in only three months, from January to March. Since he usually works with about six other lobbyists, if he worked 40 hours a week that would come out to about $1,000 an hour in revenue. (Note: This is only a ballpark figure.)
Just what, exactly, are people paying him that much for?
“Monitoring” cap-and-trade for so-called “dirty” energy companies
With the Obama Administration claiming that America is “addicted to foreign oil,” Tony and Heather Podesta are like spies in the Democratic camp, dishing cap-and-trade battle plans to companies such as BP, Marathon Oil, and Sunoco.
The couple lobbies on behalf of a range of green businesses, too. For instance, the Securing America’s Future Energy Alliance paid Tony’s firm $10,000 a month for its help in “reducing America’s dependence on oil.” He also helped a solar energy power plant to get approval from the government to build their plant.
On the flipside, Tony “monitors” cap-and-trade legislation for oil company Sunoco. Heather “monitors” cap-and-trade for Marathon Oil and Southern Company.
Besides cap-and-trade, Tony helped mining conglomerate Coeur D’Alene Mines when Obama environment officials had problems with one of its planned projects: dumping mining slurry into a remote alpine lake in Alaska, killing all the fish.
Heather “monitored” regulations on toxic coal ash. The EPA was getting pretty feisty on the issue after a spill in Tennessee contaminated the Emory River.
Helping out the banks
Tony Podesta helped Bank of America through a tough time on Capitol Hill. One minute B of A was settling an investigation with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the next, New York Attorney General was suing former Chief Executive Ken Lewis for civil fraud.
Time for some team Podesta monitoring. According to disclosure forms, Podesta helped “monitor congressional activities including financial regulatory reform, congressional investigations and other matters related to banking and financial company.”
Tony’s other financial clients include Wells Fargo, Sallie Mae and Reed Elsevier. Heather lobbied for Prudential Financial, Swiss Reinsurance Corp, Oz Management and Brookfield Asset Management.
Health care galore
The Podestas made a lot of money on the president’s health-care law. Heather lobbied for insurance giant Cigna, “monitoring” the health-care reform effort.
Tony worked on behalf of medical device-makers who were facing stiff taxes under the law. A 2.3 percent excise tax still ended up in it.
Tony worked for General Motors on “issues pertinent to the domestic automobile industry.”
Both Tony and Heather spent time working for defense contractor giants on appropriations bills.
Tony worked for top casino company Harrah’s on Internet gambling issues.
Tony represented 46 separate clients during those three months; Heather, 34. Heather’s $1.75 million in revenue from clients she personally represented would put her at a relatively modest ballpark figure of around $500 an hour in revenue.
Heather has donated $100,500 to Democrats this election cycle. Tony has donated $92,550 this cycle to Democrats.
All data was furnished by the Center for Responsive Politics.