Tony Podesta, founder of Podesta Group, is stepping down, a move that follows today’s release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of Paul Manafort regarding his work for Ukraine.
PG had represented the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine in a PR push that was organized by Manafort.
In the indictment, Mueller called the Centre “a mouthpiece” for ousted Ukraine president Vicktor Yanukovych, who is living in exile in Russia, and his political party.
Manafort used the Centre, which ceased to operate in 2014 with the exit of Yanukovych, "to lobby and conduct a PR campaign in the US and Europe on behalf of the existing Ukraine regime."
PG says it fully disclosed its representation of ECFMU and complied with FARA filing regulations five years ago within weeks of starting its work. “Any insinuation to the contrary is false,” said a spokesperson.
The firm maintains that ECFMU was a non-profit think tank formed to support Ukraine’s admission to the European Union and that it “provided formal certification that it was neither funded by nor directed by a government or political party.”
Podesta told staff that he plans to fight any charges and doesn’t want the firm to fight them, according to Politico.
He handed operational and financial control to CEO Kimberly Fritts, who plans to launch a new firm with senior PG executives this week.