'Political Intelligence': Former Obama Officials Turn D.C. Scoops into Wall Street Cash

A new Forbes article by Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President and Co-founder Peter Schweizer reveals that former Obama Administration officials and fundraisers are now leveraging their access and influence to bag big billings from Wall Street investment firms as part of the shadowy, emerging industry known as “political intelligence.”

Political intelligence firms are companies that hire former government officials and staffers to vacuum up tidbits of market-related information in and around Capitol Hill. This information is sold to Wall Street firms and financial companies to inform investments. The more connected the power player, the bigger the potential profits investment firms stand to make.

As Schweizer reports, a newer political intelligence firm named 32 Advisors is comprised of Obama power players. Former UBS President and COO Robert Wolf, who was a top $500,000 Obama bundler, heads up the firm.  Wolf has served as a member of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. 

Former Obama Cabinet member Austan Goolsbee, who served as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, is now 32 Advisors’ “head of economic intelligence practice.” 

Barry Johnson, who served in several White House-appointed positions and was also Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs (SRGIA), is now 32 Advisors’ “head of inbound investment.”

Schweizer says the political intelligence firm is also linking arms with power lobbying firm Heather Podesta and partners:

Heather Podesta is the sister-in-law of former Clinton Chief of Staff and Obama transition chief John Podesta. Her husband is mega lobbyist Tony Podesta. Heather and Tony have visited the White House 25 times, and U.S. News says the “Podestas rule Washington” and that their “legendary influence has now been stamped with the White House seal of approval.”

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced a provision to be included in the STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act that would have required political intelligence agents to publicly disclose their status, similar to the way lobbyists must register themselves, but the measure was defeated.

While not much is known about the secretive and relatively new industry, experts estimate that there are 300 political intelligence firms globally that make a combined $100 million. An estimated 2,000 political intelligence agents operate worldwide.

On Thursday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) will issue a much-anticipated report on “political intelligence firms.”

“I know that the industry is afraid that the report is going to lead to some sort of legislation or regulation for the political intelligence industry,” said Michael Mayhew, chairman of Integrity Research Associates. “They are afraid of the outcome.”


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