The Podesta Group is on it’s way towards implosion in the wake of co-founder and chairman Tony Podesta’s sudden resignation last month.
Breitbart reported that on Thursday, CEO Kimberley Fritts told employees that she would be resigning and would start her own firm, bringing clients and some Podesta Group talent with her. She explained that the Podesta Group would “cease to exist” at the end of the year, and employees were asked to clear their desks and told they may not be paid beyond this coming Wednesday but could have health care through the end of the year.
Tony Podesta resigned on October 30 hours after special counsel Robert Mueller’s team unveiled 12 charges against Paul Manafort and business partner Rick Gates related to lobbying work they did before joining the Trump campaign. Mueller has been investigating the Podesta Group as well for its lobbying work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party, organized by Manafort.
The Podesta Group was mentioned in the indictments of Manafort and Gates. The indictment stated that Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group were paid $2 million from offshore accounts controlled by Manafort, and their work included lobbying “multiple members of Congress and their staffs about Ukraine sanctions, the validity of Ukraine elections,” and the reasons for imprisoning Yulia Tymoshenko, the political rival of Russian-backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Mueller is looking into whether the Podesta Group properly identified to federal authorities it was lobbying on behalf of a foreign interest. He has interviewed “multiple people” from the Podesta Group, whose representatives have said the pro-Russian Ukrainian organization misrepresented itself.
The destruction of the Podesta Group is part of a dramatic downfall of one of the most powerful lobbying firms in Washington, DC, founded by Podesta and brother, John Podesta, who was Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager.
During his career, Podesta turned his once-modest lobbying firm into a heavy hitter. This year, however, around half a dozen of its clients have cut ties with the Podesta Group, which brought in an estimated $4.8 million in the third quarter of 2017, down from $6.1 million in the third quarter of 2016.
The indictment against Manafort and Gates states that they “generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work.”
“In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, Manafort and Gates laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts,” it continues.
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