Policy: Environment & Energy

Follow the dark money to find what John Podesta is up to in the White House

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By Luke Rosiak for the Washington Examiner. Click a recipient of CAP funds on the right side of this graphic to find out more. Opinion,White House,Ron Arnold,Columnists,Center for American Progress,Energy and Environment,Liberalism,John Podesta

Last month, when John Podesta signed up for a surprising one-year-only stint on the White House staff as a counselor to President Obama, he brought with him a multibillion-dollar brigade of left-wing phantoms.

The agenda-driven hidden influence comes from the stupendously wealthy and secretive private foundations whose dark money feeds Podesta's Center for American Progress and its Action Fund, a strategic pair “bridging the cultural and the electoral spheres to bring about lasting social change.”

This dark money goes out CAP's back door to a shadowy band of zealous left-wing activist groups eager to dismantle America's productive power. We can now cast some light upon Podesta's dangerous dark networks, thanks to the Washington Examiner's CitizenAudit database and the tell-all graphics by Luke Rosiak showing where CAP's money comes from and where it goes.

Podesta's credentials are impressive: He earned a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, founded a lobbying firm with his brother Tony and served as President Clinton's chief of staff. In Clinton's White House, Podesta was known to politicos as “a man of rare humor” and “a straight shooter,” but “with a low threshold for nonsense,” which, if anyone on his staff did something stupid, provoked a “mean, surly presence” that colleagues nicknamed “Skippy” -- to be avoided at all costs.

Obama trusts Podesta, who was co-chair of the president’s transition team, a well-placed U.N. panel member and is the founder of CAP and its Action Fund. Podesta’s encompassing political networks are packed with high-level sources that provide some of the best-informed progressive guidance available to Obama.

In a “press gaggle” aboard Air Force One returning from Nelson Mandela's funeral, reporters asked White House press secretary Jay Carney why Podesta accepted the appointment with an announced timeframe of one year.

The transcript shows Carney replying: “It’s an important year. It’s an important year.”

So even though Podesta's official advisory focus is “issues of energy and climate change,” this is a midterm election year. If the Republicans manage to increase their power in Congress, Obama's legacy goals could vanish into oblivion. During this turbocharged time, the president has no need for Podesta, the man of rare humor. It's a good bet that Obama rented Skippy.

We can assume it's Skippy because of some notable coincidences: Three weeks after Obama announced Podesta's appointment, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the award of nearly $7 million for 50 projects that will do research “to prepare our communities for the impacts of climate change.”

The same day, Podesta's CAP released a detailed, 6-point policy brief for totally redirecting the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management -- the nation's largest land-management agency -- to kill anything to do with fossil fuels and resource production based on “new public opinion data.” CAP can poll its grantee groups and get any answer it wants.

With Skippy in the White House, it’s not hard to imagine what Jewell’s 50 research projects will “discover.”

That’s orchestration worthy of a Beethoven symphony, but the fingerprints look like Skippy’s.

It’s all performance art, like the Wizard of Oz or stage magic, dazzling by the misdirection of attention: Listen to our wails of outrage over here while we wreck America’s industrial strength over there.

Last month, CAP showed us another magic trick by listing the names of 55 corporate donors on its website. CAP doesn’t want you to look for the missing amounts and purposes — or for the sources of CAP’s $39.2 million 2012 income or for the 621 foundation grants that brought CAP $114 million during the past decade.

I suggest you look behind CAP’s Wizard of Oz screen at the Examiner’s CitizenAudit. The truth is in there, and Congress should take note.

You may also want to know that John Podesta, the man “with a low threshold for nonsense” is well known to actually believe in UFOs.

RON ARNOLD, a Washington Examiner columnist, is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.
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Ron Arnold

The Washington Examiner