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Podesta a Name to Watch on the New K Street

As a new administration comes to power, the lobbying landscape is changing in Washington. Politico has compiled a valuable field guide to the lobby shops that are already “Obama-wired” and likely to get the administration’s attention.

One firm to watch is Heather Podesta and Partners, run by the sister-in-law of Obama’s transition team co-chair, John Podesta. It’s a new era in Washington, but as Politico puts it, some things don’t change when it comes to money and influence.

Heather Podesta has raised millions of dollars for Democratic candidates and causes, which means she’s on a first-name basis with many of Washington’s power players. She knows Hillary Clinton and Ken Salazar, Obama’s pick to head the Interior Department. Her relationship with [incoming health czar and Health and Human Services Secretary-nominee Tom] Daschle dates back to his days in the Senate. [Politico]

Heather Podesta’s brother-in-law John Podesta founded the liberal think tank, Center for American Progress which, it is worth noting, also employed Daschle at one point.

Health care and health insurance companies are well-represented on Podesta and Partners roster of clients. This year, the firm is lobbying for insurance giant Cigna Corp, as well as HealthSouth and Genoa Healthcare Consulting — among others.

Cigna Corp paid Podesta’s firm $180,000 last year, in part for lobbying on the Wired for Quality Health Act, and other legislation pertaining to national efforts to computerize health records, according to lobbying disclosure records.

The $825 billion stimulus package unveiled last week includes $20 billion to computerize medical records, the first step in Obama’s plan to digitize all healthcare records within the next five years.

As a health insurance company, Cigna has a strong interest in the details of the online record plan.

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