“Tony Podesta’s name had become a scarlet letter,” a staffer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I expect a lot of the top talent will go with her.”
Kimberley Fritts, the longtime CEO of the Podesta Group, is leaving the firm to start her own lobbying shop, according to three Podesta Group staffers.
Tony Podesta, the firm’s founder, hired Fritts as his successor when he announced he’d step down as chairman last week, hours after an indictment was unsealed, charging Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, with violating foreign lobbying law. The indictment accused Manafort of hiring the Podesta Group to lobby for an ostensibly independent nonprofit that “was under the ultimate direction” of the Ukrainian president, his party and the Ukrainian government.
Fritts was expected to relaunch the Podesta Group under a new name in the days after Podesta stepped down. But after more than a week of working to hammer out the details of what the new firm would look like, Fritts announced at a staff meeting yesterday, that she would resign and start a new firm. Questions about the future of the Podesta Group and its dozens of employees still remain.
One Podesta Group staffer described Fritts’ decision as the next step in rebuilding the firm without Tony Podesta.