Politics

Podesta Staff Tried To Keep Unions Away From Obama’s Immigrant Worker Plans

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Luke Rosiak Investigative Reporter
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When John Podesta worked on President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team in 2008, the team sought to use harsh secrecy and denials to lead unions and immigrant rights activists to believe they would be on their side on an issue that pitted the two against each other.

“There is a bit of panic in the labor movement about a rumor that the immigration transition team is circulating a paper calling for a massive new temporary worker program,” an AFL-CIO union official wrote in October 2008, according to a leaked email released by WikiLeaks Sunday.

Cassandra Butts, an Obama official, wrote to Podesta, saying “I’ve communicated with the immigration working group about the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of all non-public information shared in the transition process, but anyone on the transition board who received the immigration memos that have circulated could be the culprit. We might want to reconsider how we are sharing the larger memos the policy groups are producing.”

The union officials feared that Obama favoring a work program for immigrants would harm union members.

Podesta appeared to question whether they could credibly deny holding the problematic position on immigration, asking how many people had the documents that would serve as evidence.

“Are we doing that? Can’t we just shoot this down,” he wrote.

Podesta was White House chief of staff for former President Bill Clinton, prior to joining Obama’s transition team following the 2008 election. Podesta is now Hillary Clinton’s national campaign chairman.

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