Did Clinton campaign chair John Podesta help Ford Foundation deal with India? | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Did Clinton campaign chair John Podesta help Ford Foundation deal with India?

Ford Foundation and Greenpeace, whose financing and contributions were under scrutiny by the Indian government last year, had enlisted Clinton campaign chair John Podesta's help, according to a set of his hacked emails released by WikiLeaks on Monday.

world Updated: Oct 18, 2016 22:07 IST
Yashwant Raj
FILE - In this July 25, 2016, file photo, John Podesta, Clinton Campaign Chairman, speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
FILE - In this July 25, 2016, file photo, John Podesta, Clinton Campaign Chairman, speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (AP)

Ford Foundation and Greenpeace, whose financing and contributions were under scrutiny by the Indian government last year, had enlisted Clinton campaign chair John Podesta's help, according to a set of his hacked emails released by WikiLeaks on Monday.

Podesta did try to help, the emails revealed. Though they gave no details, one of them said he was the “primary reason for the positive turn” in the fortunes of Ford Foundation, which survived the scrutiny and was back in business in March.

Greenpeace was less fortunate, and was thrown out in November 2015, a development foreseen by Podesta, a consummate Washington insider who served presidents Bill Clinton and Barak Obama and founded an influential tank tank.

Ford Foundation, a New York-based charity, has been a major donor to Podesta’s think tank, Center for American Progress (CAP), and one of its trustees reminded Podesta of this in an email about the “India issue” - “I am always happy to see Ford grants to CAP.”

“Ford has become a mainstay for CAP too,” Podesta conceded in his reply, confirming his think tank had received funding from the charity he tried to save from the Indian government.

The Modi government brought hundreds of global charities under scrutiny in 2015 for violating India’s foreign contribution laws that prohibit them from funding political causes. Ford Foundation and Greenpeace were among those that made the most headlines.

“Want to talk to the head of Greenpeace?” Podesta wrote in an email to his brother Tony Podesta, who heads a lobbying firm that had India among its major clients then. 

“Kumi Naidoo (the Greenpeace head) is a very well known South African with a big international following, but I think GOI (short for government of India) is likely to stick it to them.”

He added, “Separately, I am trying to help Ford Foundation which also got on the wrong side of GOI, but whose case I think can be more easily resolved.” 

The case was resolved. Podesta may have played a role in it, as mentioned in the email from the Ford Foundation trustee, but no other details were immediately available, specially of a quid pro quo.

Ford Foundation was cleared to resume business as usual in March, just a month before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US for the nuclear summit, a pet project of Obama.

But Greenpeace was forced to fold up. A lobbyist who once worked with the organisation wrote an email to Podesta, saying, “I have had a request from some colleagues at Greenpeace as they are facing a very serious situation in India. In a nutshell: an Indian Intelligence Bureau report was ‘leaked' alleging Greenpeace India was responsible for a loss of 2-3% of the country’s GDP.

“Since then the Ministry of Home Affairs has kept up a relentless attack of allegations of irregularities in their registration and has now frozen all their bank accounts, both foreign and domestic, despite a Delhi High Court ruling there was no basis for doing so.

“The bottom line is that without some kind of intervention, they will have to close down by the end of June. This has never happened to a Greenpeace office in the entire history of the organization.

“Kumi Naidoo was hoping to speak with you or to get advice on who might be able to help behind the scenes explaining to people close to the Prime Minister that their campaigns are about the issues of clean air and clean water and not personal and their office should not be forced to close because they have a different vision of India’s future.

“Apparently the Podesta Group has the contract for the Republic of India in the US, but Kumi has no way to reach Tony or another prinicipal.”

Podesta then put Greenpeace in touch with his brother, as requested.