BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — When Hillary Clinton formally announced her presidential campaign Sunday, it was inevitable the long-time DC insider would assemble a power-packed, inside-the-beltway team, but you may not have expected the top member of that team to have an interesting — and perhaps infamous — Alabama connection.
Clinton’s newly-announced campaign chairman John Podesta is a co-founder of lobbying giant The Podesta Group, whose clients include Walmart, BP, Lockheed Martin, and several foreign governments, among many others.
Podesta was President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and served as Counselor to President Obama in the White House, where his duties included “overseeing climate change and energy policy.” He also served as President of the ultra-liberal Center for American Progress, where he continues to serve as their Chair and Counselor.
In 2014, Podesta’s lobbying firm was controversially retained by the Birmingham city government in an effort to woo the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC) to the Magic City.
Birmingham paid The Podesta Group $150,000 in its doomed bid.
In a Yellowhammer reader poll last August, over 90 percent of respondents called such an expenditure of taxpayer money a “waste,” while 7 percent said the city should do whatever it takes to land the convention.
Birmingham ultimately did not even make the final list of potential host cities.
Birmingham lacked the level of infrastructure that other cities could offer. The city’s conference facilities were not up to snuff. There were likely not enough hotel rooms to accommodate the convention. The city’s public transit system — which recently ranked 94th among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas — would have probably been pushed beyond its breaking point. And all of that is on top of the political reality that, for all practical purposes, the Democratic Party doesn’t even exist in Alabama anymore.
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015