White House counsel John Podesta may have violated ethics rules
John Podesta is a major player in D.C., founder of the leftist Center for American Progress, currently on the White House staff, and preparing to join the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in a top role. That’s why an ethics scandal would be a very big deal for him and for the forces of the left. And on the surface, it looks like he may have violated the law and President Obama’s self-proclaimed policies. Richard Pollock of the Daily Caller writes:
In 2013, John Podesta was paid $87,000 by a shadowy foreign billionaire whose passion is preventing energy exploration on American land.
Just two years later, Podesta is a member of President Obama’s inner circle, and the driving force inside the White House to block 12 million acres of land in Alaska’s Artic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling.
The circumstances suggest Podesta may have run afoul of Obama’s highly-touted ethics pledge, which requires political appointees to disqualify themselves in matters relating to the interests of a former employer or client. (snip)
[but] he emerged as one of the architects of the new White House policy that seeks to end any future drilling for oil on Alaska’s coastal plain.
This is a big problem for the Pod.
… Podesta personally announced the policy in a White House blog post Sunday, waxing poetic that the move would ensure “this wild, free, beautiful, and bountiful place remains in trust for Alaska Natives and for all Americans.”
Shielding public lands from oil and gas drilling also is one of the main occupations of Hansjorg Wyss, a mysterious Swiss billionaire who personally hired Podesta as a “consultant” in 2013 just before he entered the White House,according to his White House disclosure form.
Mysterious billionaires from countries with strong banking secrecy laws always raise my suspicions. There are foreign interests – oil producers – that have a huge vested interest in keeping prices high and American dependence on their oil also high. The current round of low oil prices is proving a tonic to the economy and improving the lives of virtually all Americans who do not work in the oil production industry. It is also strengthening America’s strategic power in the world (if the president chooses to use it).
But now, acting on advice of a leftist on the payroll of someone who consistently fights against U.S. exploitation of our own oil resources (and whose sources of money are unknown), the president has taken prime land out of consideration for drilling.
Podesta could be in for trouble:
Federal conflict of interest rules overseen by the Office of Government Ethics also instruct political appointees to “not work on any matter” if the work of their previous employer “would raise a question regarding the employee’s impartiality.” The law applies to White House officials.
One way political appointees can get around conflicts of interest requirements is to get an official waiver from an ethics office.
It’s unclear if Podesta ever sought or received a waiver. White House press secretary Josh Earnest did not respond to a detailed request for comment on the matter.
Cleta Mitchell, an attorney for Republican political figures and conservative groups said the Podesta-Wyss issue could spell trouble for the White House Counselor.
“So he was just doing the bidding of a Swiss billionaire and he’s in the White House to do it,” Mitchell told TheDC. “That’s pretty clear. If he didn’t recuse himself then that’s what he’s done.”
Stay tuned. There should be hearings about this, and that is not good news for Hillary Clinton.