John Podesta, the powerful Democratic consultant who President Joe Biden tapped to oversee a multibillion-dollar climate investment fund, discussed those investments with an environmental group that had him on the payroll just months before, according to a new financial disclosure.
Galvanize Climate Solutions, a green energy investment firm founded by billionaire Tom Steyer, participated in an Oct. 31 meeting with Podesta and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to discuss how to best use the $369 billion in federal funds. Galvanize paid Podesta $84,000 in advisory fees from December 2021 through August 2022, financial disclosures show. Ethics watchdogs say Podesta hasn’t technically violated any laws but hosting his former employer at the meeting was ethically dubious.
"Alas, it's a similar story these days, sophisticated players checking the necessary boxes to avoid clear violations while still appearing to advance the interests of former employers and clients," said Michael Chamberlain, the director of the ethics watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust.
Podesta’s net worth has skyrocketed since he last served in the White House as counselor to former president Barack Obama. His net worth ranged between $4.6 million to $9.2 million in 2014, according to his financial disclosure that year. By 2022, his net worth ballooned to between $9.3 million to $28.4 million, according to a copy of his latest financial disclosure obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Steyer was jubilant after Biden tapped Podesta to lead the $369 billion fund, which was created as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. The billionaire said Podesta was the perfect choice to "champion" the climate investment fund in a gushing statement issued Sept. 9. Days later, on Sept. 13, Steyer said the fund represented a "transformative, revolutionary, unprecedented" investment opportunity for the clean energy industry.
Steyer isn’t Podesta’s only billionaire patron with a stake in the green energy industry. He reported receiving payments from the HJW Foundation, a private foundation established by Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss. Wyss has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to leftist groups in the United States, including dark money juggernauts the Sixteen Thirty Fund and New Venture Fund. Wyss is also a founding member of the Center for American Progress, a leftwing think tank Podesta founded in 2003 and chaired from 2017 through September 2022.
It’s not clear exactly how much Podesta received from Wyss’s foundation before joining the Biden administration. While Podesta identified the HJW Foundation as a source of compensation exceeding $5,000, he didn’t disclose the exact amount he received from the Swiss billionaire.
Podesta also raked in $140,000 in consulting fees from the Sandler Foundation, a charity founded by multibillionaire banker Herbert Sandler that funds leftwing groups including Podesta’s Center for American Progress, the ACLU, Earthjustice, and the Sierra Club. Sandler died in 2019.
China hawks on Capitol Hill have raised concerns that Podesta could steer resources from the climate fund to America’s top adversary. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) and Ted Cruz (R., Texas) have noted that Podesta has urged the United States and China to "align" on renewable energy policy, and that the longtime Democratic consultant once urged Chinese businesses to directly invest in the American economy.
The White House did not return a request for comment.
Published under: Climate , Ethics , John Podesta , Tom Steyer