With the Russia probe moving along, Tony Podesta announced Monday he’s stepping down from the lobbying firm he founded.
Podesta’s the founder of Podesta Group, a firm that’s under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. According to POLITICO, he announced his decision at a firm-wide meeting, alerting clients of his departure. The resignation came the same day former campaign aides of President Donald Trump were indicted as part of Mueller’s probe on multiple charges, including money laundering and operating as federal agents of the Ukrainian government.
Podesta’s brother, John Podesta, is the former chairman of Hillary Clinton‘s presidential campaign. He also served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and was a counselor to President Barack Obama.
John has been under fire in the past as well, as WikiLeaks published thousands of emails retrieved from his private GMail account, some which had controversial material about Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategy.
John is married to Mary Podesta, an attorney in Washington D.C., and they have three children together.
Here’s what you need to know John Podesta’s family:
1. John & His Wife Have Been Married for Over 40 Years
John’s wife, Mary Podesta, worked as an attorney for 18 years at Investment Company Institute. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Smith College in American studies in 1966 before obtaining her Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center in 1976.
According to her LinkedIn account, Mary worked as the associate director and chief counsel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for 13 years (1979-1992) before getting the job at the Investment Company Institute. Her and John have been married for over 40 years, and have three children together.
In some of the personal emails that were leaked by WikiLeaks, we found out that the couple have a typical marriage.
“Happy anniversary,” one email from John to Mary said. “Tried calling a couple of times but no pickup.”
Mary is currently a mutual fund lawyer in D.C.
2. John & Tony Started the Lobbying Firm That’s Now Under Scrutiny in the Russia Probe
John’s brother, Tony, has worked as a lobbyist for groups such as Bank of America, BP and more. He’s also spent time working on the political campaigns of Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton.
Most recently, Tony has worked for congressional candidates such as Patrick Murphy and Chris Carney. In his time as a lobbyist, Tony has often been referred to as one of the most powerful lobbyists and fundraisers in D.C.
Tony studied political science in college and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago before attending graduate school at MIT.
In 1988, Tony and John teamed up to create Podesta Associates, which is known as Podesta Group today.
But the latest developments in the federal investigation into potential ties to Russia has brought scrutiny to the group. Tony reportedly failed to disclose an extent of his political work for a Ukrainian group that’s tied to Paul Manafort and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
On October 23, it was reported that Tony was facing a criminal inquiry in Mueller’s investigation, and he stepped down from the company one week later.
3. John’s Daughter, a School Board Member in California, Was Cited in a WikiLeaks Email
When WikiLeaks released the Podesta emails, his daughter Megan Rouse was looped into the controversy. Rouse is a board trustee for the Dublin Unified School District in Dublin, California. She started serving in the district in 2013 and is currently the vice president of the board.
One of the emails cited business relationships spurred by her father and another mentioned soliciting a campaign contribution on behalf of his daughter for the DUSD board.
In one email, John told his friends in D.C. to “get in on the ground floor” by giving to his daughter’s 2014 school board campaign.
“While you probably aren’t too vested in the outcome of local California school board races, we hope you can support her candidacy, even at a modest level, as she begins her career as an elected official. Good to get in on the ground floor,” Podesta wrote in an email. “(Rouse) is doing a great job and is sort of running for re-election, but this is her first time before the voters.”
They responded by giving over $17,000 toward her campaign, finance reports stated.
Rouse released a statement regarding the leaked emails, saying that she “could not be more proud of (her) father’s life work.”
Read her full statement below, in which she describes her upbringing.
I imagine that most folks around Dublin were surprised to see me swept into the WikiLeaks feeding frenzy. I know I was. Indeed, it still doesn’t seem entirely real to me.
I’ve never made a habit of discussing my dad’s work because I am by nature a fairly private person, national politics are so polarizing and, up until recently at least, many people hadn’t heard of John Podesta as most of his work is behind the scenes. Of course that changed when his personal email was hacked by the Russian government and released by WikiLeaks in the midst of a heated Presidential election.
Now that the word is out I’ll go ahead and say it – I could not be more proud of my father’s life’s work. John Podesta is among the most accomplished public servants and public policy executives of his generation. And as the head of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, I believe that he’s currently leading the most important political endeavor of my lifetime. So while I recognize the “anti-establishment” mood that exists in America today, I have tremendous respect for our public institutions and public servants, and I make no apologies for my father’s work advancing progressive policies.
My dad has always been passionate about our climate and taking care of our planet. Growing up, the 1990 Earth Day poster by Robbie Conal hung in our home as a symbol of that commitment. This dedication continues today, including his efforts on the Paris agreement regarding greenhouse gasses.
Like most people, my dad believes that renewable energy is a key part of the solution to global climate change, so it was a natural fit for him to sit on the board of Joule Unlimited, which is an innovative renewable energy technology startup in Massachusetts, and he was compensated with shares of stock in the company. Please note in particular that the links between Joule and Russian uranium interests that have been cited in right wing blogs are completely fabricated and have no basis in fact.
When he went to work for President Obama in 2014, he was asked by the White House ethics officials to divest the Joule shares. Entirely above board and with the approval of the White House Counsel and government ethics officials, he resigned from the board, gave the shares to his adult children, including me, and recused himself of any matter related to Joule. A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a straightforward way for multiple people to hold an asset together. My siblings and I formed Leonidio LLC, and the gifted Joule shares were placed in it. As the oldest child, I became the managing member, and used my home address for Leonidio LLC. I have complied with all the rules and regulations for the LLC, including my responsibility as an elected official to report my ownership in Leonidio LLC as an asset on my annual Form 700.
I also wanted to address the fundraising I did for my 2014 campaign for Dublin School board. I grew up in DC, and during the summer of 2014, I went back to my hometown for a fundraiser. Hosted by my family, it was attended largely by long time family friends. Though some of them have recognizable names and positions, these are all the folks that watched me grow up, attended my wedding 20 years ago, and remain close family friends. They also value education and public service. All of the contributions I received throughout my campaign were properly reported on my Form 460 filings with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. I remain deeply grateful to the Dublin community for the honor to serve on our school board.
I have to admit, I wrestled with sharing my comments before or after the election – given the critical importance of this election at the national and local levels, I did not want to bring the attention to myself. However, I could not leave the crazy conspiracy theories unchallenged. It is my belief and hope that presenting the facts will clarify any outstanding questions.
4. The Podesta’s Mother ‘Adopted’ 25 Children
John and Tony are the sons of Mary Kokoris-Podesta and John Podesta. Their father died back in 1980, and Mary worked to influence their lives from the beginning. She loved to cook and was the person who inspired her sons to learn and take pride in making meals. As The National Herald reported in 2007, their mother also loved politics and raised her boys to become politically active. She worked for Bankers Life and Casualty Co. in Chicago for years before deciding to move to the East Coast.
When she moved to D.C. to be closer to her sons in 1987, she reportedly cooked at various fundraisers they planned. While Mary had John and Tony, her obituary said “adopted” 25 children when she moved to D.C.
Mary died in March 2007, and her family said they were “deeply saddened” by her passing. In her final months of life, the Podesta brothers said Bill and Hillary Clinton both spoke to her.
“She had a great spark and leaves behind an incredible legacy,” her obituary said.
5. John’s Fomer Sister-In-Law Is a Lobbyist, Too
Tony’s ex-wife — John’s former sister-in-law — is Heather Miller Podesta, a lawyer and lobbyist in D.C. A 2004 Washington Post article referred to her as “the insider’s insider” and the “it girl of Washington.”
Heather doesn’t work at the Podesta Group, but owns her own firm called Invariant. She and Tony got married in 2003, but filed for divorce 10 years later. The Post reported that the two reached a divorce settlement in 2014, finalizing their separation.
In addition to being a lobbyist and attorney, Heather has a major interest in artwork and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. She’s a known collector of art and was named as one of the top 200 collectors in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013 by ARTnews.
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