John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman, has not accounted for thousands of shares he was given by a company where he served on the board of directors with three powerful business figures with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Your letter does not respond to the substance of the article, which concerns the whereabouts of 75,000 shares of stock in Joule that Mr. Podesta was entitled to receive,” The Daily Caller News Foundation’s publisher, Neil Patel, said. “The fact that Mr. Podesta, a senior national political figure, apparently sat on the board of Joule with Russian state-owned entities only elevates the importance of this matter.” (RELATED: John Podesta’s Libel Threat Against The Daily Caller News Foundation Is Legally Empty)
Patel was responding to a March 29, 2017, “cease and desist” letter he received from Marc Elias, Podesta’s attorney attacking a March 26, 2017, story on The Daily Caller’s site entitled “John Podesta May Have Violated Federal Law By Not Disclosing 75,000 Stock Shares.”
The story — written by Richard Pollock, TheDCNF’s Investigative Group’s senior reporter — was “entirely false,” Elias claimed, because “Mr. Podesta actually reported more than was required.”
Elias also claimed Podesta disclosed his “complete divestment” of [his] ownership interest” in “75,000 common shares in Joule Global Holdings, to an entity that was not owned by Mr. Podesta, his wife or any dependent children.” Joule Global Holdings is a Netherlands-based investment holding company, according to Bloomberg.
Elias, according to his law firm’s website, has a long history of legal advocacy on behalf of major figures in the Democratic Party.
“Marc is currently general counsel to Hillary for America, the presidential campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton. He served in the same role for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Marc’s clients include the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic Governors Associations and U.S. senators, governors, representatives and their campaigns,” according to the web site.
In fact, Podesta only directed Joule to transfer 33,693 shares, with no explanation of what he did with the remaining 41,307 shares.
“On December 20, 2013, just prior to joining the Obama Administration, Mr. Podesta caused a Delaware LLC called Leonidio Holdings to be created, listing the address of his daughter in the LLC incorporation papers, and his mother and father appear to be co-owners of Leonidio,” Patel said.
The transferred shares went to Leonidio Holdings, a Delaware LLC, Podesta caused to be incorporated Dec. 20, 2013, a few days before becoming a senior adviser on former President Barack Obama’s White House staff. Podesta was White House chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton. (RELATED: John Podesta May Have Violated Federal Law By Not Disclosing 75,000 Stock Shares)
Podesta’s daughter, Megan Rouse, is vice-president of the Dublin, Calif., schools’ Board of Trustees.
Patel also rejected Elias’s claim that Pollock failed to “meet even the most basic journalistic standard of seeking comment or information from my client.”
“You are entirely wrong in asserting that TheDCNF did not seek comment or information from Mr. Podesta before publishing the article,” Patel said. “It is TheDCNF’s practice to seek comment from the subject of articles before publishing, and it followed that practice here … Pollock sent three e-mail requests seeking to contact Mr. Podesta for an interview, all well before the article was published.”
Patel continued, noting that “if any apology should be made here, it should come from you and Mr. Podesta for an unwarranted attack on Richard Pollock’s responsible journalistic practices.”
TheDCNF publisher acknowledged a minor error in the Pollock story, which has since been corrected. The story should have said Podesta was not required a fill in one blank space on the financial disclosure form.
Podesta’s Joule stocks were first mentioned in 2010 when he joined the board of directors of Bedford, Mass.-based Joule Unlimited Technologies for a four-year term and was awarded 100,000 shares.
He also joined the boards of Joule Global Holdings and the Stichting Joule Global Foundation, both based in the Netherlands. He ultimately got 75,000 shares because he failed to serve the fourth year of the term on the board.
During Podesta’s tenure on the Joule board, the firm accepted a $35 million investment from Rusnano, a state-run and funded Russian company with close ties to Putin. As a result, Podesta served on the board, which met six times each year, with Rusnano CEO Anatoly Chubais and two other top Russian banking executives.
The Russian investment in Joule and whether Podesta completely divested his ownership interest in the company is particularly important because, according to former FBI Assistant Director Ron Hosko, it could “become a counter-intelligence concern for America.”
Hosko, a 30-year FBI veteran, added that “it’s a troubling question, if you deliberately omit this information on the [financial disclosure] form. Were you completely truthful on this form that you filled out, yes or no?”
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