Obama-cozy Podestas lead the bundling game

John Podesta was Barack Obama's presidential transition director and remains one of his closest confidants.

Tony Podesta runs the lobbying firm the started with his brother John and is the most prolific lobbyist bundler in the country.

Heather Podesta is also a lobbyist, and she is second only to her husband on the score of bundling. Bundlers are volunteer fundraisers, and national party committees are required to disclose their bundlers who are lobbyists,

The Center for Public Integrity has the story on the latest filings:

The  [Podesta] couple, already known as top-tier Democratic donors and lobbyists, appears back-to-back at the top of the FEC’s lobbyist bundler database. Both Podestas bundled over $320,000 each in just the first six months of this year, blowing away the nearest competitor and setting themselves up to make an early impact in what is shaping up to be the most expensive political cycle in American history.

Think about this cozy relationship in the context of Obama's constant anti-lobbyist rhetoric. His closest advisor is brothers with the lobbyist who raises the most money for his party.

There are other connections: Obama's health secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, is close enough to Heather and Tony that she attended the 65th birthday party that Heather threw for Tony. Obama's first fundraiser as President was at the Museum of Woman in the Arts, on whose board Heather Podesta sits.

Tony Podesta has visited Obama's White House at least 21 times, and Heather has visited 13. That's not keeping lobbyists out.

Tony was, I believe, the first lobbyist to hire up an Obama administration alumnus, plucking Labor Department aide Oscar Ramirez in 2009. 

Tony's clients include Bank of America, Blue Cross, BP, Credit Suisse, Duke Energy, General Motors, Google, H&R Block, Lockheed Martin, Merck, National Public Radio, United Technologies, and Wal-Mart. Many of these companies have benefitted from Obama administration policies, and Podesta Group lobbying campaigns often overlap with the efforts of John Podesta's liberal non-profit, the Center for American Progress.

Heather Podesta's clients include Cigna, Eli Lilly, Home Depot, and U.S. Steel.

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