Last Friday, I published a post titled, John Podesta’s Sister-in-Law Lobbied For Raytheon While Hillary Was Secretary of State, which understandably got totally buried in the madness surrounding the latest FBI news. Here’s the first paragraph of that post:
The Podesta family seems particularly adept at earning extraordinary sums of money via selling out the American public. Earlier this year, I highlighted how John Podesta’s brother Tony was paid $140,000 per month by the medieval monarchy of Saudi Arabia. After all, who cares about women’s rights when the pay is good?
Indeed, it’s not just relatives of Podesta who know how to rake in the cash. John is no slouch either, as Politico explained in an article published earlier today.
Here are a few excerpts:
Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, last year signed a $7,000-a-month contract with the foundation of a major Clinton donor who made a fortune selling a type of mortgage that some critics say contributed to the housing collapse, hacked emails show.
In February of last year, as Podesta was working to lay the groundwork for Clinton’s soon-to-launch campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, he signed the contract with the Sandler Foundation, which was started by Herb Sandler and his late wife Marion Sandler.
The contract — a copy of which was included in emails illegally obtained from Podesta’s Gmail account and disseminated Monday by WikiLeaks — is still active, according to Herb Sandler, who said that it calls for Podesta to provide advice on grant-making and other foundation functions.
It’s unusual for the full-time chairman of a general-election presidential campaign to maintain an active side deal with a major donor to that campaign — let alone to raise money from that donor for the campaign.
The WikiLeaks cache shows that Podesta provided Sandler with philanthropic advice and assortments of cheeses and pastas as gifts on the holidays, while Sandler offered all manner of political observations and once tried to get Podesta to arrange for former President Bill Clinton to write a blurb for a book written by one of Sandler’s friends.
But Sandler brushed aside any concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
“I have never asked for anything of any political person — zero requests ever,” Sandler said. “If they’re responsive, it’s because they regard me as thoughtful, and a major contributor to Democratic causes,” Sandler said, adding that Podesta “knows that he doesn’t get bullshit from me. He knows I have no hidden agenda. He knows that my values are similar to his and that we care about people and not the billionaires, even though I ended up by some crazy thing to be one.”
Neither Podesta nor the Clinton campaign responded to questions about the contract.
Herb Sandler’s Clinton-related giving picked up last December after a visit from Podesta.
The campaign’s finance director Dennis Cheng responded “Great!!,” calling Podesta “#ChairmanCash.”
“Chairman cash.” A new meme has just been born.
The very next day, Sandler gave $1.5 million to Priorities USA Action, to which he has now given a total of $3 million, FEC records show.
The family’s fortune comes from the savings and loan institution that Herb and Marion Sandler ran for decades, a bank that became World Savings. It would end up making boatloads of cash from a type of adjustable rate mortgage that other lenders would later adopt, securitize and sell in a way that some have blamed for contributing to the housing bubble that burst in 2008. Not long before the burst and subsequent recession, the Sandlers sold the bank for $25.5 billion to Wachovia, earning $2.6 billion off the sale and donating most of their net worth to their foundation. Wachovia was later acquired by Wells Fargo.
The Sandlers met Podesta when they helped seed the Center for American Progress, the think tank he started in 2003 as a sort of Democratic administration in exile during George W. Bush’s presidency. Tax filings show that the Sandler Foundation has donated more than $37 million over the years to CAP, which worked to support President Barack Obama’s administration but has always been seen as more aligned with Clinton.
Center for American Progress…where have we heard that before? Oh yeah, in last week’s post, Dennis Kucinich’s Extraordinary Warning on D.C.’s Think Tank Warmongers, we learned:
The self-identified liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) is now calling for Syria to be bombed, and estimates America’s current military adventures will be tidied up by 2025, a tardy twist on “mission accomplished.” CAP, according to a report in The Nation, has received funding from war contractors Lockheed Martin and Boeing, who make the bombers that CAP wants to rain hellfire on Syria.
Remember peasants, war is ok if “liberals” do it. Now back to Politico…
The WikiLeaks emails reveal that Podesta and his team at the Center for American Progress discussed how to push back on scrutiny of the Sandlers related to the 2008 housing collapse. That included an October 2008 “Saturday Night Live” sketch in which an actor playing Herb Sandler thanked members of Congress “for helping block congressional oversight of our corrupt activity.”
Podesta wrote to his colleagues that he’d talked to Herb Sandler, and “they are obviosly [sic] upset. Weird that snl should pick them out.”
After doing some research, a subordinate replied that “it appears default rates on their stuff was high (herb says not more so than others) and the losses were key to almsot wachovia failure — athough herb emphasizes that they were only one of the institutions problems.”
Sandler told POLITICO that any suggestion that his bank’s products contributed to the collapse were “a bunch of bullshit,” pointing out that their bank used a risk-averse approach to their loans, which had among the lowest default rate in the industry.
But Scott Walter, president of Capital Research Center, a conservative nonprofit that monitors the giving of major liberal donors including Sandler, argued that Podesta’s newly revealed contractual relationship with Sandler stood in stark contrast to Clinton’s efforts to cast herself as tough on the financial industry.
“This is another instance where the Clinton campaign has been revealed to have surprising links to some of the most dubious parts of the finance industry,” Walter said.
The Sandlers’ philanthropy increasingly has focused on fighting financial inequality and the role of big money in politics — a subject about which Herb Sandler and Podesta emailed frequently, according to WikiLeaks.
Interesting considering he is big money in politics, and seems to have no problem endlessly cheerleading the chosen candidate of America’s oligarchs.
Sandler explained to POLITICO that during the process of working to launch the center, he realized “we had been picking his brain ad nauseum” for years without paying Podesta as a consultant — a scenario Sandler called “very unfair.” That led to the consulting contract, which Sandler cast as “a ripoff” for Podesta. “I’d pay a lot more for that advice,” Sandler said, calling Podesta “one the most intelligent, decent, thoughtful human beings I’d ever met.”
In March, as Clinton’s Democratic primary campaign against Bernie Sanders grew increasingly bitter, Sandler emailed Podesta just to check up.
“How are you?” Sandler wrote. “MIss you.”
Call me crazy, but if he was really so focused on solving income inequality why wasn’t he supporting Bernie Sanders?
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