By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
When the White House proved true to its promise of full disclosure by releasing a list of recent West Wing visitors, the headlines went to the big donors like George Soros, the big movie stars like George Clooney, and the mega-union bosses like Andy Stern of the Service Employees International Union.
But to insiders, the list showed something else: The power of the Podesta family. Between them, Obama adviser and former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta; his brother, lobbyist Tony Podesta; and Tony's lobbying wife Heather made 25 visits. By comparison, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made one visit.
For John Podesta, the rise as one of Washington's influentials is richly deserved. He runs the Center for American Progress, which has become a very influential policy shop for the Democrats. He also was Obama's transition chief. According to the White House list, he met with the president twice and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel three times. As for the Podesta lobbying husband-and-wife team, their legendary influence has now been stamped with the White House seal of approval.