Foreign Policy reports that the Podesta Group "is channeling as much as $35,000" to sponsor Mike Allen’s Playbook as it lobbies for the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. The Bipartisan Group, an association advocating Hagel’s nomination, hired the Podesta Group.
In addition to the Podesta Group being paid by persons unknown to support Hagel, the Center For American Progress, founded and chaired by Tony Podesta's brother, John, has simultaneously taken an aggressive role in defending Hagel from charges of hostility to gays and Jews as well as from questions about his views on Iran and Israel among other controversial issues. CAP’s Think Progress website, recently mired in its own anti-Semitism scandal, defended Hagel’s record on Israel while outside criticisms have been dismissed as "neocon smears."
John Podesta cofounded the Podesta Group with his brother before leaving to found CAP.
Tony Podesta, the current president of the Podesta Group, has a history of representing often anti-democratic foreign powers, including Egypt from 2007 to 2012. Podesta’s Egypt contract was worth at least $90,000 per month. The contract, which began under the deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, brought in more than $6 million over its duration.
Hagel has been criticized by many members of the Jewish community for being antagonistic toward Israel and the Jewish community in the U.S. Remarks Hagel made in 1998, opposing an ambassador for being ‘openly and aggressively gay,’ have angered many in the LGBT community, including many members of President Obama’s own party. Hagel opposed abandoning ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy, which Obama succeeded in removing, claiming ‘The U.S. armed forces aren’t some social experiment."