Heather Podesta | Belle du Jour of D.C. Lobbyists

And I mean political favors, of course

Heather Podesta (Photo: flickr.com)

Heather Podesta (Photo: flickr.com)

I don’t want to spend a lot of time of this point, but let’s set the table anyway. I don’t have a problem with political lobbying, so long as all sides have an equal opportunity to play the game. It’s how the Washington machine works, and Washington has no interest in changing that, regardless of the rhetoric. So long as all sides are equal, I have no problem with the game. To eliminate economic disparities, laws that limit contributions, gifts or stipends (call them what you will) should rightly be in place. Call it a form of debt relief if you will, but it would achieve the end of leveling the playing field for parties with causes that they’d like to have argued but that lack the money to compete on the big stage.

And these days, Heather Podesta is the lobbyist all Democratic lobbyists aspire to be. As she puts it, “This is a very good time to be a Democratic lobbyist… it’s incredibly exciting to be able to engage with Democrats and really see things happen. It’s always a good time to be Heather Podesta.”

Who is Heather Podesta?

According to her lobbying firm’s Web site, Heather Podesta is “a seasoned legislative and public policy strategist with experience on Capitol Hill and in the private sector.” Whether the field is education, health care, technology or tax and trade policy, Heather Podesta is on the case and working with politicians in her “common-sense” style. Furthermore, as Washington insiders put it, Heather Podesta is at the forefront of all lobbyists because she “really does her homework.”

And now she has a style profile in The Washington Post

Time Magazine’sSwampland” politics blog wonders whether that’s a good thing. Are lobbyists crossing over into the mainstream of America’s high-powered, high-brow glamour set? Is that a good thing? Their position seems to be that if you’re an “influence peddler,” you shouldn’t flaunt your position. However, in this nation of excess and celebrity cults, how celebrating Heather Podesta any different? This is what America has made itself, and we should adjust our viewfinders accordingly, as the train is steaming downhill. What it’s bound for remains to be seen. Glory? Ruin? A pile of something else that steams?

What is clear is that Heather Podesta is definitely in the right position to make a huge impact. She’s the sister of the former Clinton Chief of Staff and the wife of an “über-lobbyist” in his own right.

She who bears the scarlet “L”

Yes, it stand for the L-word… lobbyist. At the 2008 Democratic convention, Heather Podesta wore a scarlet “L” as a jab at Barack Obama’s call to curb the lobbying machine. This kind of blazing defiance and sheer gumption has kept the spotlight on Podesta as she presses the flesh on the lobbying trail this summer. She has clients like health care insurance giants Cigna and HealthSouth; drug maker Eli Lilly; breast cancer group Susan G. Komen for the Cure; financial players like Prudential and Swiss Reinsurance Co.; and big energy mavens and utilities like Marathon Oil, Southern Co. and Climate Masters. Pushing for employer-based health, working for drug regulation in the field of cancer treatment and much more fill the plate of this political socialite. Heather Podesta is busy greasing the wheels of Washington, D.C. How are your lobbyists doing, Republicans? Looking into debt settlement relief yet?

Ah, the sacrifices one must make

This summer has been very busy for Heather Podesta, so much so that her customary vacation schedule she keeps with her husband has been disrupted. Rather than traveling to their Venice retreat (Italy, I imagine… not Venice Beach, California) 10 or 12 times this year, they’re likely to make it only “about six times,” she tells the Post. But even when they do make it to Venice, it isn’t always for pleasure. The Podestas have hosted a variety of politicians, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (then a governor) and around 20 members of Congress (Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley, New York Rep. Eliot Engel, even Teddy Kennedy… to name a few).

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