Matthew Continetti of the Washington Beacon has done a Tom Wolfe-ish treatment of the conscious uncoupling of premier Democratic lobbyists Tony Podesta (the Podesta Group) and Heather Podesta (Heather Podesta + Partners), a distinctly DC drama that is playing out through news leaks as much as law suits.
Divorce Beltway Style looks at the tens of millions in annual revenue the two Podestas took in, the multi-million dollar houses they owned, the art collection they'll have to split, and, most of all, the self-licking ice cream cone that is political lobbying at their level.
They [the suits and counter suits] tell stories not only of a May-December romance gone sour, but of how obscene wealth can be amassed through rent-seeking and influence-peddling in Washington D.C., and of the hoary means by which the princelings of the capital and their consorts maintain and grow that wealth.
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Heather changed her name — something she had not done in her previous marriages — to Heather Miller Podesta ... She joined the company, began lobbying. She picked up Tony’s art habit, and together they amassed a collection of more than 1,300 pieces [you can view some of them here].
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In 2007 Podesta Matoon became the Podesta Group. Heather formed Heather Podesta + Partners, establishing two prongs of the Podesta family empire. The third prong was the Center for American Progress, founded in 2003 by John Podesta, who would oversee President Obama’s transition team in 2009, and join the Obama administration as a senior adviser in 2014. The Podestas had become the most important non-elected family in the Democratic Party.
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In 2009, with the inauguration of Obama and the dawn of unified Democratic control of Washington, business boomed. Revenues at Tony’s firm close to doubled, and revenues at Heather’s firm increased by 50 percent. The money has continued to roll in. The Podesta Group had some $13 million in lobbying income in 2013, sporting clients such as Lockheed Martin, Wells Fargo, U.S. Airways, Walmart, and the National Biodiesel Board. Heather Podesta + Partners made some $4 million, lobbying on behalf of health companies, the American Beverage Association, Brookfield Power, DeVry University, and others. A portion of that money was recycled, contributing to Democratic campaigns, opening up avenues of influence: Tony gave some $45,500 in 2013, all to Democrats; Heather some $95,798 to Democrats, Democratic committees, and liberal groups.
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Corporations give to Democratic politicians, avoiding the scrutiny of liberal attack dogs in the media and nonprofit sectors, and enjoying the ego boost that comes with being on the “right side of history.” Then those corporations hire the Podestas to get them out of the Rube Goldberg traps the Democrats have enacted into law.
He ends with this:
Now that shared enterprise is no more, the Heather and Tony Podesta brand is damaged, and all the years of strategic cultivation is in danger of coming undone. This “married couple who both lobbied” is sundered, revealing a political culture of pettiness and greed, and reminding us that there are few things as revolting, intellectually, morally, and ethically, as the “Washington power scene.”