An investigative report has revealed that a high-profile Democrat was paid lucrative fees to lobby for the lifting of U.S. sanctions on contracts with Russian banks, contrasting with accusations from Democrats that President Trump and his key aides are sympathetic to Russia while the Obama administration was not.
According to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group, Democrat lobbyist Tony Podesta, the founder and chairman of the Podesta Group, earned $170,000 over a six-month period last year representing Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank.
Podesta lobbied to lift key economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration following their seizure of the Crimean region of Ukraine in 2014.
Lobbying disclosure forms revealed that Podesta, brother of John Podesta — Hillary Clinton’s national campaign chairman in the 2016 presidential race — is listed as a key lobbyist for Sberbank.
The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reports that in 2016, the Podesta Group received more than $24 million in fees, largely from foreign governments, such as the authoritarian regimes of Vietnam, Myanmar, and Somalia.
The firm also represents numerous foreign embassies in Washington, D.C. Congress and the executive branch were targets of Podesta’s lobbying efforts.
Elena Teplitskaya, Sberbank’s board chairman told House aides in August that Podesta and other lobbyists secured at least two meetings between Sberbank officers and Department of State officials.
Podesta was integral in an under-the-radar lobbying effort that transpired during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, spearheaded by veteran Democratic operatives to remove sanctions against Sberbank and VTB Capital, Russia’s second largest bank.
Senate lobbying disclosure forms and documents filed with the Department of Justice reveal that Sberbank and VTB Capital paid Washington lobbyists more than $700,000 in 2016 as they sought to end the U.S. sanctions.
Sberbank paid the Podesta Group $20,000 per month, plus expenses, on a contract from March through September 2016.
“The Democrats are sitting there trying to convince us that the Russians are trying to throw the election to Trump,” a congressional aide who met Teplitskaya told the Daily Caller.
“And then they’re with us here in the House and meeting directly with the administration behind closed doors on the issue of the sanctions. The hypocrisy could not be any richer,” he said.
Tony Podesta was also a major donation bundler for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
H/T: The Daily Caller
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