WASHINGTON -- Washington is a small town at the top, and lawmakers and their spouses tend to move in overlapping circles. This reality was underscored Tuesday by a Washington Examiner report that Beltway super lobbyist Tony Podesta had hired real estate agent Frank Snellings, the husband of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), to sell his Capitol Hill townhouse.
Podesta had previously hired Snellings, a lawyer-turned-property agent, to broker his 2009 purchase of the townhouse for just under $1.5 million. The house has been a regular venue for fundraisers for lawmakers from both parties since then.
"I don't remember when I first met Frank, but it was a long time ago," Podesta told HuffPost. "Frank's a really go get 'em agent, and he has a good instinct," the lobbyist said.
Podesta said Snellings' marriage to Landrieu was "totally immaterial" to his decision to list the townhouse with Snellings.
"We just thought he was a really good real estate agent," Podesta said, a compliment borne out by the Examiner story that the townhouse, which was listed earlier this summer for $1.9 million, is under contract with a buyer.
The arrangement does not violate Senate ethics rules, and Landrieu is not required to disclose her husband's clients on her Senate financial disclosure forms, although they do disclose that he earns income through real estate. But mixing personal finances with political connections runs the risk that one party or the other could potentially have more than just real estate in mind.
Podesta, for instance, counts giant defense contractor Lockheed Martin and oil behemoth BP among his clients. Landrieu, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee and comes from a state with a booming oil industry, is undoubtedly a key senator in the eyes of both of these corporations.
Podesta assured HuffPost that he never discussed his clients or Landrieu's work with Snellings and that he has never lobbied Landrieu directly on behalf of Lockheed Martin or BP.
But the veteran lobbyist rarely misses an opportunity to strengthen his network of powerful friends.
At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, he reminded Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) that she had "a permanent invitation" to visit the Podestas' vacation home in Venice, Italy, Mark Leibovich reported in his recent book "This Town." The driving force behind the Capitol Hill townhouse sale -- Tony Podesta's divorce from fellow super lobbyist Heather Podesta -- may require that invitation to be amended. Regardless, it's been previously reported that the Podestas have entertained some 20 members of Congress over the years at their Venice home.
Selling homes on Capitol Hill essentially guarantees that you'll run into a fair share of lobbyists and other power brokers, whether you're married to a senator or not, and Snellings has also represented many clients with no connection to politics. Real estate is a fundamentally word-of-mouth business based on personal networks, so it's not surprising that some of his clients have connections to Landrieu and Louisiana.
Landrieu's communications director, Matt Lehner, told HuffPost, "After practicing law in Louisiana for 19 years, Mr. Snellings decided 11 years ago to sell real estate. At that time, he and Sen. Landrieu received guidance from the Senate Ethics Committee that stated it is completely permissible and appropriate for Mr. Snellings to be a real estate agent for anyone. Mr. Snellings and Sen. Landrieu have always abided by the committee's rules and guidance, and they disclose their finances every year."
Since Snellings entered the real estate business in 2002, however, he has brokered houses for a number of Louisiana power players, starting with big-time lobbyist John Breaux. Snellings handled two transactions, a sale and a purchase, for Breaux in 2006, worth close to $2 million in total.
A former Louisiana senator, Breaux now works with the law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs, whose employees are also Landrieu's second most generous source of campaign funds. The firm has deep ties to Louisiana: Name partner Thomas Hale Boggs Jr. is the son of the late Thomas Hale and Lindy Boggs, who between them represented the state in Congress for over four decades.
Another Louisiana political player on Snellings' client list is Richard Zuschlag, a health care industry CEO and Landrieu campaign donor. Employees at Zuschlag's company, Acadian Ambulance Services, have donated more than $85,000 to Landrieu's election campaigns over the course of her career, placing them fourth among her all-time highest donors. Acadian employees have also given to Republicans, including Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), and to both major parties' campaign committees.
Zuschlag and his family have personally contributed $23,566 to Landrieu over the senator's career, a relatively small amount when compared to the $399,325 the family has given to Republican candidates for federal office since 1990. He has also been honored by then-President George W. Bush, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and other Louisiana officials.
In 2006, Snellings helped Zuschlag buy a house a few blocks from the vice president's mansion. Zuschlag owned the property through a holding company until he retained Snellings again, in 2011, to sell it. In the meantime, the house was occupied by Zuschlag's daughter, Emily Zuschlag and, later, her husband Ross LeBlanc, whom she married in 2008. LeBlanc has his own Landrieu connection: He started out as a scheduling assistant in Landrieu's Senate office, before becoming a research analyst for the Senate Small Business Committee, which Landrieu chairs. LeBlanc and his wife left Washington in 2011.
A top lobbyist at Comcast, Melissa Maxfield, hired Snellings to help her buy a house in 2006, three years after she decamped from Capitol Hill to K Street. Maxfield has since been a host for at least three of Landrieu's annual Crawfish Fest fundraisers, in 2010, 2012 and, most recently, in June of this year. She has also made donations totaling $3,600 to Landrieu's political campaigns since 2006.
Former Louisiana Rep. Chris John (D) turned to Snellings to sell his Capitol Hill row house in 2007, before moving back to his home state to work as a lobbyist for the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. Later the same year, Landrieu made news in Washington when she cast a deciding vote with Republicans to maintain billions of dollars in subsidies for the oil industry. With the senator facing criticism for voting against her party, it was John who came to her defense, writing in The Washington Post about the "courage" she had shown by backing oil and gas interests.
Also on Snellings' client list are a handful of Democratic and progressive politicians from other parts of the country, including former Florida senator, and later governor, Bob Graham; New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen; and Puerto Rico's former congressional representative Carlos Romero Barcelo.
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Governor of South Carolina (2011-Present) First woman to serve as Governor of South Carolina. First female Indian-American and Asian-American governor. Currently the youngest governor serving. <strong>Other offices:</strong> State Representative (2005-2010)
Gov. Mary Fallin (R)
Governor of Oklahoma (2011-Present) First woman to serve as Governor of Oklahoma. Oklahoma's first female Lieutenant Governor. Third woman to become Chairman of the National Governors Association. Defeated Lt. Gov. Jari Askins in 2010. <strong>Other offices:</strong> U.S. Representative (2007-2011) Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma (1995-2007) State Representative (1990-1995)
Gov. Susana Martinez (R)
Governor of New Mexico (2011-Present) First woman to serve as Governor of New Mexico. First female Hispanic-American governor outside Puerto Rico. Defeated Lt. Gov. Diana Denish in 2010. <strong>Other offices:</strong> New Mexico District Attorney for the 3rd Judicial District (1996-2010) Assistant District Attorney for the 3rd Judicial District (1986-1992)
Gov. Jan Brewer (R)
Governor of Arizona (2009-Present) Third consecutive woman to serve as Governor of Arizona. As Secretary of State, Brewer succeeded Gov. Janet Napolitano when she resigned. Fourth female Arizona Governor overall. <strong>Other offices:</strong> Arizona Secretary of State (2003-2009) Maricopa Board of Supervisors Chairwoman (1998-2002) Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Member (1996-2002) State Senator (1987-1997) State Representative (1983-1987)
Beverly Perdue (D)
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Sarah Palin (R)
Governor of Alaska (2006-2009) First woman to serve as Governor of Alaska. Alaska's youngest governor. First female governor to appear on a major party presidential ticket (2008). Second woman to give birth as governor. <strong>Other offices:</strong> Chairperson of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (2003-2004) Mayor of Wasilla (1996-2002) Wasilla City Council Member (1992-1996)
Christine Gregoire (D)
Governor of Washington (2005-2013) First woman Attorney General in Washington state (1993-2005). Second woman Chairperson of the National Governors Association (2010-2011). <strong>Other offices:</strong> Washington Attorney General (1993-2005)
M. Jodi Rell (R)
Governor of Connecticut (2004-2011) As Lieutenant Governor, Rell succeeded Gov. John G. Rowland when he resigned. <strong>Other offices:</strong> Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut (1995-2004) State Representative (1985-1995)
Kathleen Blanco (D)
Governor of Louisiana (2004-2008) First woman to serve as Governor of Louisiana. Served as governor during Hurricane Katrina. <strong>Other offices:</strong> Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana (1996-2004) Louisiana Public Service Commissioner (1989-1996)
Kathleen Sebelius (D)
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Janet Napolitano (D)
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Jennifer Granholm (D)
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Olene Walker (R)
Governor of Utah (2003-2005) First woman to serve as Governor of Utah. As Lieutenant Governor, Walker succeeded Gov. Mike Leavitt after he was nominated to lead the Environmental Protection Agency in 2003. <strong>Other offices:</strong> Lieutenant Governor of Utah (1993-2003)
Linda Lingle (R)
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Ruth Ann Minner (D)
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Judy Martz (R)
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Jane Swift (R)
Governor of Massachusetts (2001-2003) First governor to give birth in office (to twins). Took office at age 36, making her the youngest female governor in U.S. history at the time. Swift succeeded Gov. Paul Cellucci after he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Canada in 2001. <strong>Other offices:</strong> Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts (1999-2003) Secretary of Consumer Affairs of Massachusetts (1997-1998) State Senator (1991-1997)
Nancy Hollister (R)
Governor of Ohio (1998-1999) First woman to serve as Governor of Ohio. Succeeded Gov. George Voinovich for a one-week term when Voinovich resigned to become a U.S. senator. Hollister became a state representative after leaving the governor's mansion. <strong>Other offices:</strong> State Representative (1999-2004) Lieutenant Governor of Ohio (1995-1998) Mayor of Marietta (1984-1991)
Jeanne Shaheen (D)
Governor of New Hampshire (1997-2003) First elected woman to serve as Governor of New Hampshire. First woman to be a governor and a U.S. senator. <strong>Other offices:</strong> U.S. Senator (2009-Present) State Senator (1992-1996)
Jane Dee Hull (R)
Governor of Arizona (1997-2003) First Republican woman to serve as Governor of Arizona. Hull succeeded Gov. Fife Symington, who resigned due to a felony conviction. <strong>Other offices:</strong> Arizona Secretary of State (1995-1997) Speaker pro tempore of the Arizona House (1992-1993) Speaker of the Arizona House (1989-1992) State Representative (1979-1993)
Christine Todd Whitman (R)
Governor of New Jersey (1994-2001) First woman to serve as Governor of New Jersey. Whitman later became EPA Administrator (2001-2003). Granddaughter-in-law of former New York Gov. Charles Whitman (R) (1915-1919) <strong>Other offices:</strong> Founder of the Committee for Responsible Government (1993) President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (1988-1990) Somerset County Freeholder (1983-1988)
Barbara Roberts (D)
Governor of Oregon (1991-1995) First woman to serve as Governor of Oregon. <strong>Other offices:</strong> Oregon Secretary of State (1985-1991) State Representative (1981-1985)
Ann Richards (D)
Governor of Texas (1991-1995) First female Governor of Texas who was not a wife of a previous governor. Richards delivered the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. <strong>Other offices:</strong> State Treasurer (1983-1991) Travis County Commissioner (1977-1983)
Joan Finney (D)
Governor of Kansas (1991-1995) First woman to serve as Governor of Kansas. First woman to defeat an incumbent governor in a general election. <strong>Other offices:</strong> State Treasurer (1975-1991)
Rose Perica Mofford (D)
Governor of Arizona (1988-1991) First woman to serve as Governor of Arizona. Mofford, then Secretary of State, became acting governor after Gov. Evan Mecham was impeached in 1988. Mofford was sworn in two months later, after Mecham was removed from office following his impeachment trial. <strong>Other offices:</strong> Arizona Secretary of State (1977-1988) Tax Commission Executive Secretary (1947-1960)
Kay A. Orr (R)
Governor of Nebraska (1987-1991) First Republican woman elected governor. First woman to serve as Governor of Nebraska. First woman elected governor over another female major-party candidate, former Lincoln Mayor Helen Boosalis. <strong>Other offices:</strong> State Treasurer (1981-1986)
Madeleine M. Kunin (D)
Governor of Vermont (1985-1991) First female Jewish governor of any state. First woman to serve as Governor of Vermont. First woman elected to three terms as governor. Kunin was later U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. <strong>Other offices:</strong> Lieutenant Governor of Vermont (1979-1983) State Representative (1972-1978)
Martha Layne Collins (D)
Governor of Kentucky (1983-1987) First woman to serve as Governor of Kentucky. <strong>Other offices:</strong> Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky (1979-1983) Clerk of the Kentucky Court of Appeals (1975-1979)
Vesta M. Roy (R)
Governor of New Hampshire (1982-1983) First woman Republican governor. First woman governor of New Hampshire. Roy acted as governor for one week and was never sworn in. <strong>Other offices:</strong> President of the State Senate (1983-1986) State Senator (1978-1986) Campaign adviser to Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush
Dixy Lee Ray (D)
Governor of Washington (1977-1981) First woman to serve as Governor of Washington. <strong>Other offices:</strong> Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (January 1975-June 1975) Atomic Energy Commission Chairwoman (1973-1975)
Ella T. Grasso (D)
Governor of Connecticut (1975-1980) First female governor who was not a wife or widow of a previous governor. First woman to serve as Governor of Connecticut. First woman governor to be elected to two consecutive terms. First woman governor to resign. <strong>Other offices:</strong> U.S. Representative (1971-1975) Connecticut Secretary of State (1959-1971)
Lurleen Wallace (D)
First woman to serve as Governor of Alabama (1967-1968). First Lady of Alabama (1963-1967) First female governor to die in office. First wife of Gov. George Wallace (1963–1967, 1971–1979, and 1983-1987). Because George Wallace could not seek reelection in 1966, his wife ran for governor with the clear understanding that he would act as governor behind the scenes. George Wallace eventually got term limits repealed and served three more terms.
Miriam A. Ferguson (D)
Governor of Texas (1925-1927, 1933-1935). First woman to serve as Governor of Texas. First Lady of Texas (1915-1917), wife of Gov. James E. Ferguson. After her husband was impeached, convicted and removed from governorship, Miriam ran for office, telling voters they would get "two governors for the price of one."
Nellie Tayloe Ross (D)
Governor of Wyoming (1925-1927). First woman to serve as Governor of Wyoming. First elected female governor in U.S. (sworn in 15 days before Miriam Ferguson). Widow of Governor William B. Ross (1923-1924). <strong>Other offices:</strong> Director of U.S. Mint (1933-1953) <em>Correction: a previous version of this slide stated that Ross was sworn in 12 days before Ferguson.</em>
Soledad Chávez Chacón (D)
First woman to <a href="http://www.abqjournal.com/elex/2010generalelection/2010governorrace/2403252010governorrace10-24-10.htm" target="_blank">carry out the duties</a> of Governor of New Mexico (1924 for two weeks). In May 1924, Lt. Gov. Jose Baca died and Gov. James F. Hinkle traveled to New York for the Democratic National Convention. As Secretary of State, Soledad Chávez Chacón served as the acting governor. <strong>Other offices:</strong> New Mexico Secretary of State (1923-1926)
Carolyn B. Shelton
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