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.John Podesta, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 national campaign chairman, may have violated federal law by failing to disclose the receipt of 75,000 shares of stock from a Kremlin-financed company when he joined the Obama White House in 2014.
The outlet also states that Podesta appears to be linked to a $35 million transaction between a Kremlin-funded company and a company he sat on the board of.
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):
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry...government-ethics_us_58d96696e4b0f805b32240d3§ 2634.303 Purchases, sales, and exchanges.
(a) In general. Except as indicated in § 2634.308(b) of this subpart, each financial disclosure report filed pursuant to this subpart shall include a brief description, the date and value (using the categories of value in § 2634.301(d) of this subpart) of any purchase, sale, or exchange by the filer during the reporting period, in which the amount involved in the transaction exceeds $1,000:
(1) Of real property, other than a personal residence of the filer or spouse, as defined in § 2634.105(l) of this part; and
(2) Of stocks, bonds, commodity futures, mutual fund shares, and other forms of securities.
3) Any transaction which occurred at a time when the reporting individual was not a Federal Government officer or employee need not be reported under paragraph (a) of this section.
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.