Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta made about $1 million last year lobbying the Biden White House on behalf of Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Financial disclosure forms released last week show that Podesta made $500,000 in the fourth quarter of 2021 lobbying the “Executive Office of the President” on “Issues related to telecommunication services and impacted trade issues,” according to the New York Post. That sum is in addition to another $500,000 Podesta disclosed in the third quarter of 2021 for lobbying President Joe Biden on behalf of Huawei.
When asked about Podesta’s lobbying in October, the White House pointed out that the Chinese tech giant is still under U.S. sanctions.
“President Biden and this administration believe digital infrastructure equipment made by untrustworthy vendors, like Huawei, pose a threat to the security of the U.S., our allies, and our partners. Export controls against Huawei remain in place,” a White House official said at the time.
“We are committed to using the full range of our tools to keep us and our allies secure,” the official added. “We are engaging with all of our partners and allies on the risks posed by Huawei and dozens of countries and carriers have made the decision to exclude Huawei from their 5G networks. And we expect this trend to continue.”
Podesta was a K Street titan in Washington, D.C., until his lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, crashed in 2017 as he faced federal investigation. Podesta originally launched the firm in 1988 alongside his brother, John, who served as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman.
Through his lobbying firm, Podesta has been a Democratic power broker in the nation’s capital for decades. His reputation took a hit when his connections to Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, were revealed through the course of ex-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian collusion conspiracy of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Podesta was revealed to have been hired by Huawei to lobby the Biden administration in July. The Chinese tech giant has retained a number of lobbying firms in D.C. to plead its case to lawmakers as U.S.-China tensions have increased in recent years. Huawei has also hired consulting firm belonging to former GOP congressman Lee Terry, attorney Stephen Binhak, and former GOP aide Glenn LeMunyon.
As China has grown increasingly hostile with its takeover of Hong Kong and threatening posture toward Taiwan, Huawei’s reputation in the U.S. has crumbled. In February, the Department of Justice charged the Chinese tech giant with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Huawei has also struggled internationally. In July 2020, the U.K. banned the tech giant from working on expanding the British 5G network over security concerns.
“We have to have confidence in the security and resilience of the infrastructure on which [new technologies] are built,” British Secretary of State for Digital Oliver Dowden told the U.K. House of Commons at the time.