The Podesta Group belatedly filed several new disclosures with the Justice Department on Aug. 17 related to work the firm completed between 2012 and 2014 on behalf of a pro-Russia Ukrainian think tank.
Back in April, the powerful Washington lobbying firm run by Clinton ally Tony Podesta filed a document admitting its work for the pro-Russia European Centre for a Modern Ukraine may have principally benefited a foreign government. New disclosures revealed dozens of previously unreported interactions the firm made with influential government offices, including Hillary Clinton's State Department and the office of former Vice President Joe Biden, while lobbying on behalf of the center. Embattled ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort failed to disclose his extensive lobbying efforts on behalf of the center at the time as well.
Anyone lobbying or doing public relations on behalf of foreign governments is required to register as a foreign agent in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The Aug. 17 filings include short-form registration statements for six Podesta Group employees and an amendment to the firm's registration statement that includes a list of political contributions made by relevant employees throughout 2013.
A review of those donations shows both parties received cash from Podesta Group lobbyists.
The individual employee filings appear to be uniform and lawyerly, each describing what their services were supposed to entail as, "Research and analyze issues related to principal's organizational mission of improving ties between Ukraine and the West counsel on activities in Congress and executive branch and developments that relate to the principal's organizational mission; and maintain contact, as needed, with legislative and executive branch officials, members of the media, and NGOs." One of the filings is for Tony Podesta himself, who was a bundler for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. Tony and his brother John--Clinton's 2016 campaign chairman--co-founded the lobbying firm in 1988.
Last August, the AP reported that Manafort oversaw the lobbying efforts on behalf of the center carried out by the Podesta Group and Mercury, another high-powered firm. As the Washington Examiner noted in May, the Podesta Group was paid more by the think tank than Mercury -- the firms earned $1 million and $720,000 between 2012 and 2014, respectively.
At the time of the firm's retroactive filing in April, Politico reported CEO Kimberly Fritts "said in a statement that the firm relied on assurances from the think tank, the European Centre for Modern Ukraine, that it was not controlled or financed by a foreign government or political party. Based on that information, the firm disclosed its work to Congress rather than to the Justice Department."
Even after filing with the DOJ in April, it appears the Podesta Group is still cleaning up its own mess.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.