A number of websites, led by Roger Stone, are claiming that former Clinton White House official John Podesta received $35 million from a Russian company while working for Hillary Clinton and president Obama.
A careful examination of the facts, already made by a number of media outlets, reveals that Podesta received no such money and, although carefully skirting existing federal law, did not violate it.
According to the Stone Cold Truth website:
As usual, Stone went big with his headline and immediately backtracked in the text that followed it.
The “outlet” that Roger Stone’s website cites is none other than Breitbart, which published essentially the same story back in March of this year.
Did Podesta receive $35 million dollars from a “Kremlin-financed company”?
Prior to joining the Obama administration, Podesta was on the board of Joule Unlimited Technologies from 2010 to 2014. Joule developed “commercial-scale production of ethanol made from carbon dioxide,” according to the McClatchy News Service.
During that time, Rusnano USA, the “Kremlin-financed company” Stone refers to, invested $35 million in Joule. Overall, Joule received approximately $200 million from outside investors. The parent company of Rusnano USA is JSC RUSNANO, which is a Russian state enterprise.
So, Podesta never received $35 million dollars while he worked for Obama or Clinton. His company did when he was a board member, from another company that was controlled by the Russian government.
Did Podesta violate federal law by failing to disclose shares in Joule Unilimited Technologies?
The Huffington Post looked into this issue in March right after the Breitbart story.
Before leaving Joule in December 2014 to become a special advisor for the Obama administration, Podesta received 75,000 shares of common stock from the company, which he then transferred to Leonidio Holdings, a Delaware-based corporation managed by his daughter Megan Rouse.
Podesta never claimed these stocks on his disclosure forms (attached) because, according to federal law, he was a “new entrant” into federal service, even though he had served in Bill Clinton’s White House from 1993 to 2001. The Huffington Post even found the relevant statute (my emphasis):
So, Podesta did not violate federal law. He is part of a larger problem in our country where former, high profile officials take advantage of the revolving door between government service and the corporate sector, and help shape the law to protect it.
Unethical? Probably. But not illegal and definitely not something with a $35 million personal payday.