A review of foreign agent registration filings revealed that many of the millions of dollars accrued by Democratic lobbyist bundlers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign have come from companies that have recently represented Russian interests.
According to a report in the Washington Free Beacon, the records are proof that some top Democratic lobbyists actually do have ties to foreign banks and governments.
Here’s a handy guide:
- Clinton campaign bundler Emanuel “Mike” Manatos, senior vice president of the D.C.-based government relations firm Manatos & Manatos, counts Russian-owned financial organization VTB Group, as one of its clients.
- Lobbyist Tony Podesta, owner of the D.C.-based Podesta Group, “works on behalf of Sberbank CIB USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Russia’s largest bank that is majority-owned by the government.” Tony’s brother is Clinton’s former campaign chairman John Podesta.
- D.C.-based lobbying firm Capitol Counsel has been working with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a $10 billion fund established by the Russian government.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires individuals “who act as agents for foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to provide periodic updates to the Justice Department on the work and services they perform,” according to the report, which also says that foreign agents “must submit receipts and disbursements in relation to the work they perform for foreign entities.”
Paperwork filed by Manatos on May 11, 2016, shows that he was working on behalf of the VTB Group, which was registered as a “global provider of financial services, comprised of over 20 financial institutions and financial companies operating across all key areas of the financial markets.”
- The Russian government controls 60.9 percent of VTB Group.
- The documents show that VTB Group took a $2.6 billion bailout from the Russian government in 2014-15.
- On VTB Group’s behalf, Manatos lobbied Congress and the Obama administration regarding sanctions imposed on Russian-affiliated financial institutions.
Manatos also bundled “more than $40,000 in lobbyist donations for Clinton’s campaign. Together with his brother and partner, Andy Manatos, data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that the two donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic politicians.
Sberbank CIB USA, Inc. paid Tony Podesta “$20,000 in the first quarter of 2016 to “clarify the scope of sanctions imposed by Executive Order 13660,” signed by President Obama in March 2014 to block “property of certain persons contributing to the situation in Ukraine.”
- Podesta also was hired by Sberbank to explore possible sanctions relief.
- Disclosure forms show that Sberbank paid him $170,000 in 2016.
- Podesta has bundled approximately $260,000 for Clinton’s campaign and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to high-ranking Democratic lawmakers, PACs, and committees.
Capitol Counsel submitted a proposal on Sep. 12, 2014, to represent the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) in the U.S., stating, “Recent press articles have significantly misstated the role and function of RDIF. To help address this concern, Capitol Counsel proposes to assist RDIF in correcting the press reports by working with US investors and the international investment community to educate the Administration and major policy makers as to the role of RDIF and its relationship with US business and investors.”
- Partners David Jones and Richard Sullivan bundled more than $1.3 million for Clinton.
- Records show that Capitol Counsel took a “monthly retainer of $45,000 for a minimum of two months as compensation.”
- The lobbying group was tasked with helping the U.S. Department of Treasury and U.S. policymakers to better understand RDIF’S “role and relationship with the United States partners and investors” and have communication with Treasury officials, policymakers on Capitol Hill, and Senate and House committees of jurisdiction to “gather information regarding U.S. sanctions on Russian entities.”
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