Clinton campaign chair created front for stock options in Putin-linked company to skirt ethics protocols.
An email released by WikiLeaks on Wednesday morning appears to prove Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta created a holding company in order to conceal his interests in an energy company with deep ties to the Putin regime.
Two weeks ago, a leaked email also published by WikiLeaks first revealed that Podesta transferred his holdings in the Putin-linked company Joule Unlimited to a private holding company — Leonidio LLC — upon joining the Obama administration.
“Podesta began taking steps to hide his interests in Joule [on] his second day as an Obama administration official.”
“The disclosure that Clinton Chair John Podesta transferred his shares in Putin-backed Joule Unlimited to an anonymous holding company when he joined the Obama Administration is extremely concerning,” the Trump campaign said in an official statement at the time. “Because the holding company is completely anonymous, we do not know whether or not he still has deep financial ties to Vladimir Putin and his regime.”
Last week, Breitbart reported that WikiLeaks released an email detailing the transfer of Joule stock to Leonidio and listing Megan Rouse — Podesta’s daughter-in-law — as a managing member of Leonidio. Her address is also listed as the address for Leonidio, proving Podesta’s ties to Russian interests were not severed when he joined the Obama administration.
Now, WikiLeaks has published what could be the “smoking gun.” The email released on Wednesday is an invoice — aptly titled “Government Ethics Matters” — sent to Podesta in March 2014 from international law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLC for their services in creating Leonidio LLC. It shows Podesta began taking steps to hide his interests in Joule [on] his second day as an Obama administration official.
An August report by the Government Accountability Institute found that Podesta failed to disclose his full involvement with Joule Unlimited before joining the Obama administration — nor did he disclose the full extent of his interests in Joule in his federal disclosure, listing only two of the three Joule boards on which he sat. The report further notes that “in his 2014 federal government disclosure filing, Podesta lists that he divested stock options from Joule.”
Divesting from shares in companies that could provoke conflicts of interest is standard practice for private individuals going into government. Indeed, when Dick Cheney became vice president, his shares in Halliburton were transferred to a blind trust.
Transferring one’s shares to a “private” holding company which one owns and which lists one’s daughter-in-law as a managing member, however, in no way removes conflict of interest.