A lobbyist connection between Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and Azerbaijan could create the appearance of a conflict of interest, if the democratic nominee wins the US general election on November 8.
For the past seven years, the Podesta Group, a high-powered Washington lobbying firm, has handled networking and image-building for Azerbaijan’s embassy in the United States. Azerbaijan ranks alongside Tajikistan as the third worst rights abuser in the former Soviet Union, behind Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, according to the watchdog group Freedom House.
The Podesta Group’s chief executive officer is 73-year-old Tony Podesta, who has acted as a major fundraiser for the Clinton campaign. In addition, Podesta’s 67-year-old brother, John, serves as Clinton’s campaign chairman, and previously served as former president Bill Clinton’s chief of staff.
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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance journalist and a frequent contributor to EurasiaNet.org's Tamada Tales blog.