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Tipsheet

Why Biden's Pick to Oversee Billions in Climate Funds Raises Red Flags

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

The Biden administration announced Friday that longtime Democratic operative John Podesta will return to the White House to serve as senior advisor to the president for 'Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation.'

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In the role, Podesta, who served in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and was chairman of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, will oversee $370 billion in climate funds from the Inflation Reduction Act. 

As a senior adviser to Mr. Biden on clean energy innovation, Mr. Podesta will shape how the government disburses billions of dollars in tax credits and incentives to industries that are developing wind and solar energy, as well as to consumers who want to install solar panels, heat and cool their homes with electric heat pumps or buy electric vehicles.

In addition to his time in the Obama administration, Mr. Podesta, 73, served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and was chairman of Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful campaign for president in 2016. He founded the Center for American Progress, a left leaning think tank, and is now chairman of its board. From that perch, Mr. Podesta has informally been advising the Biden administration, pushing the White House to act more aggressively on climate change.

In bringing on Mr. Podesta, Mr. Biden continues to surround himself with veterans of past Democratic administrations, old hands who can step into challenging positions without on-the-job training. [...]

For Mr. Podesta, who served as President Clinton’s chief of staff during impeachment proceedings and was brought in to help salvage a difficult second term for President Barack Obama, his third trip into the White House is by comparison somewhat triumphant. Mr. Podesta’s friends said he had just bought a home in San Diego where he hoped to retire before Ron Klain, Mr. Biden’s chief of staff, called to offer the new position. (NYT)

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“We are fortunate that John Podesta will lead our continued innovation and implementation,” President Biden said in a statement. “His deep roots in climate and clean energy policy and his experience at senior levels of government mean we can truly hit the ground running to take advantage of the massive clean energy opportunity in front of us.”

Podesta’s brother, Tony, was previously investigated during the Russia probe. After closing his lobbying firm in 2017, he’s now back to federal lobbying with clients such as Chinese telecom firm, Huawei, and Quantum Materials Corp, a nanotech manufacturer, reports The New York Times, according to federal disclosure reports. The company's website touts its work on solar technology.  

Conservatives were highly skeptical of the appointment. 

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