Refugee Council USA Hired Podesta Group to Deliver ‘Talking Points’ That Provide ‘Cover’ to Jeff Flake, Other GOP Amnesty Supporters

Jeff Flake
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The lobbying arm of the refugee resettlement industry hired the Podesta Group earlier this year to deliver “talking points” that provide “cover” to Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and other pro-amnesty Republican members of Congress when discussing the issue of refugee resettlement with the media and other Republicans.

The Refugee Council USA (RCUSA), the “trade organization” of refugee resettlement agencies who receive almost all of their funding from the federal government, paid the Podesta Group $100,000 to lobby Congress in 2017, according to Open Secrets. RCUSA describes itself as “a coalition of 25 U.S.-based non-governmental organizations . . . dedicated to refugee protection, welcome, and excellence in the U.S. refugee resettlement program.”

The Podesta Group “can help RCUSA develop messaging that concedes the political dynamic that gave rise to the [Trump Executive Order reducing refugee arrivals and increasing vetting], that acknowledges the felt security risk, and that reframes its core asks in a way that does not alienate Republicans but gives them an incentive to collaborate,” the proposal submitted by the Podesta Group in March of this year to the RCUSA for the engagement stated:

Key to this messaging framework will be conveying to the administration and congressional stakeholders the reality that RCUSA and its members are equally–if not more–invested in the success of the current exhaustive vetting process, and that a terrorist attack from a resettled refugee would cause more damage to RCUSA’s programs than any other event . . .

RCUSA’s messaging must include talking points that provide members of Congress and the administration ‘cover’ when discussing this issue . . .

We believe that many influential GOP members would prefer the debate return to the relative bipartisan consensus that existed prior to the unaccompanied minors crisis in 2013, rather than the overheated divisive place it is today. [Emphasis added]

“Our primary targets will be Republicans–and some key Democrats who work well across the aisle–who sit on committees of jurisdiction and whose responsibilities include refugee and asylum policies,” the proposal added.

Targets specifically identified in the proposal included, among others, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), all on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Flake, Graham and Rubio were three of the four Republican co-sponsors of the pro-amnesty 2013 Senate “Gang of Eight” bill that passed the Senate, but failed in the House of Representatives.

Murkowski and Collins joined Flake, Graham, and Rubio in voting for the bill.

The Podesta Group’s proposal asked for a $17,500 monthly retainer from RCUSA, and pitched a digital messaging campaign it estimated would cost an additional $7,500 to $15,000 per month.

Politico reported on Monday that Tony Podesta, founder of the Podesta Group, one of the most powerful lobbying firms in the country, is resigning from the group he founded in 1987, due to the current investigations of Russian influence on the 2016 election by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 failed Presidential campaign, is Tony Podesta’s brother.

“The Podesta Group is one of the two unnamed lobbying firms mentioned in the grand jury indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his partner Rick Gates that was unsealed on Monday, sources told NBC News,” Breitbart News reported on Monday:

The indictment, issued by the special counsel probing Russian interference and any collusion in the presidential election, listed 12 counts of money laundering, tax evasion, violation of lobbying regulations, and making false statements related to their work on behalf of the Ukrainian interests from 2006 through 2016.

The indictment referred to two companies that Manafort and Gates hired on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian organization — “Company A” and “Company B.” NBC News confirmed that “Company A” is Mercury Public Affairs, and “Company B” is the Podesta Group.

Podesta’s resignation on Monday appears to be the first step in dissolving the Podesta Group entirely.

“Podesta is handing over full operational and financial control of the firm to longtime firm CEO Kimberley Fritts, according to multiple sources with knowledge of Monday’s meeting,” Politico reported on Monday.

“Fritts and a senior group of the Podesta team will be launching a new firm in the next one or two days. Sources said the transition has been in the works for the past several months,” Politico noted.


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