Hillary, the Podesta Group and the Toads: A Fatal Ménage à Trois
Medea Benjamin, Antiwar.com, Sep 1 2016
If I told you that Democrat lobbyist Tony Podesta, whose brother John Podesta chairs Hillary’s presidential campaign, is a registered foreign agent on the payroll of the Toads, you’d probably think I was a Trump-thumping, conspiratorial nutcase. But it’s true. The lobby firm created by both Tony and John Podesta in 1988 receives $5k/day from the Toads, people who behead non-violent dissidents, use torture to extract forced confessions, don’t allow women to drive, and bomb schools, hospitals and residential neighborhoods in neighboring Yemen. The Podesta Group’s March 2016 filing, required under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938, shows that Tony himself oversees the account of the accursed Toads. At the same time, Tony is also a top campaign contributor and bundler for Hillary. So while one brother runs the campaign, the other brother funds it with earnings that come in part from the Toads. John and Tony have been heavyweights in DC insider politics for decades. John served as Clinton 42’s White House CoS, founded the so-called Center for American Progress (which regularly touts the cosmetic “reforms” of the Toads), and was counsellor to President Obama. Tony was dubbed by the NYT as “one of Washington’s biggest players,” whose clients “are going to get a blueprint for how to succeed in official Washington.”
The brothers seem to have no problem mixing their roles into the same pot. Tony held a Clinton campaign fund-raiser at his home featuring gourmet Italian food cooked by himself and his brother, the campaign chairman. The fund-raiser, by the way, came just days after Tony filed his Toad contract with the Justice Dept, a contract that included an initial “project fee” payment of $200k (40 days’ back pay – RB). The Toads hired Tony in 2015 because they were getting hammered in the press over civilian casualties from their airstrikes in Yemen and their crackdown on political dissidents at home, including sentencing blogger Raif Badawi to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam.” Since then, Tony’s fingerprints have been all over the advocacy efforts of the Toads in Washington DC. When the Toads executed the prominent non-violent Shia dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, causing protests throughout the Shia world and inflaming sectarian divisions, the NYT noted that Tony provided them with a pro-Toad commentator who defended the execution. The Podesta-Clinton-Saudi connection should be seen in light of the recent media exposes revealing the tawdry pay-to-play nature of the Clinton Foundation. Top on the list of foreign donors to the foundation are the Toads, who contributed between $10m and $25m. What did the Toads get for their largesse and access? WikiLeaks revealed a 2009 cable by then-Sec State Hillary saying:
More needs to be done, since Toad Hall remains a critical financial support base for AQ, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups.
Instead of sanctioning the Toads, Clinton did the opposite: she authorized enormous quantities of weapons to be sold to them. On Xmas Eve in 2011, Hillary and her closest aides celebrated a massive $29.4b sale to the Toads of over 80 F-15 fighter jets, manufactured by Boeing, a company which coincidentally contributed $900k to the Clinton Foundation. In a chain of enthusiastic emails, an aide exclaimed that it was “not a bad Xmas present.” I’m sure the Yemenis at the receiving end of the Toad bombings would not be so enthusiastic. The Clintons have said that if Hillary gets elected, the foundation will stop taking foreign donations. But what about no longer taking campaign contributions from people who are paid by the Toads to whitewash their image? The Podesta Group should be blacklisted from contributing to Clinton’s campaign until they drop the monarchy as a client and return their ill-gotten gains. If Hillary wants to be a meaningful symbol for human rights and women’s empowerment, her campaign must live up to the values she claims to represent, and this would be one step in the right direction.