Report: Top DC lobbyist Podesta retains Landrieu's husband as realtor

Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-La.) husband is slated to benefit financially from real-estate dealings with a lobbyist whose firm often has business before the senator.

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Tony Podesta, cofounder of the Podesta Group, has retained Frank Snellings, Landrieu's husband, to sell the Capitol Hill townhouse where he hosts prominent fundraisers and receptions, according to a report in the Washington Examiner.

Podesta bought the house in 2009 for $1.57 million, and Snellings served as his agent then. The house is now listed at $1.89 million, and the Examiner reports Snellings would be slated to receive a fee of around $50,000 from Podesta for the sale, according to the typical 3 percent fee due to the listing agent.

Podesta's firm has a number of clients with business before Landrieu. Its biggest client, Lockheed Martin, is one of the biggest contractors for the Department of Homeland Security — a department over which Landrieu, as chairwoman of the Appropriations Homeland Security subcommittee, has some influence.

A Landrieu aide pushed back against the suggestion that the relationship was inappropriate, however, pointing out Tony Podesta and his group have not lobbied Landrieu on BP or Lockheed Martin.

And Matthew Lehner, Landrieu's communications director, said the senator and her husband had consulted the Senate Ethics Committee to avoid breaking any rules.

"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," he said.

"Mr. Snellings and Sen. Landrieu have always abided by the committee's rules and guidance, and they disclose their finances every year." 

The Examiner report also notes that another major Podesta Group client, oil company BP, counts Landrieu as a defender. She pushed back in March against a ban, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, on BP obtaining new federal contracts or drilling leases.

There's no clear indication of wrongdoing, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee has already latched onto the report, blasting it out under the headline "Landrieu Real Estate Scandal Threatens Re-Elect."

Landrieu is a top target for Republicans, who believe her to be vulnerable due to Louisiana's increasingly red tint and President Obama's popularity there. But she's emerged victorious from tough races before and has amassed a nearly-$5 million war chest for reelection.

This story was updated at 11:02 a.m.