CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia Delegate Riley Moore says he is shocked by what he’s learning about the Podesta Group, where he used to work as a vice president.
Tony Podesta, the lobbying firm’s namesake, stepped aside on Monday after the firm was linked to the highly-publicized indictment of former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort.
Moore, who was hired as part of a new wave of employees in 2013, was part of a client team working on the the European Centre For a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), which had been formed to represent former Ukranian President, Viktor Yanukovych.
Moore, who this past summer went to work for Textron as a director in its Washington office, said he was unaware at the time of the aspects of the work alleged in the indictment. He said it’s disturbing to hear what may have been going with the Podesta Group.
“It’s hurtful and upsetting since I had no idea that this was going on,” the Republican delegate from Jefferson County told WEPM News on Tuesday.
Moore, the nephew of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, said he was unaware of anything illegal going on when he worked for the firm.
The state Democratic Party took aim at Moore’s connections through a released statement in August, calling on the delegate to publicly address the Podesta Group’s ties to the Mueller investigation.
“Riley Moore owes it to the voters of Jefferson County to explain his past history with the corrupt Ukrainian government and other pro-Russian interests,” Democratic chairwoman Belinda Biafore stated at the time.
Speaking Tuesday, Moore said he was among a number of Republicans hired to help diversify the practice. Tony Podesta formed his lobbying firm with his brother John, who was chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, counselor to President Barack Obama and campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton.
The Podesta Group became part of the broader national conversation Monday when it was tied into special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Manafort, who was indicted by Mueller this week, has been linked to the former Ukraine president who was friendly with Russia.
The Podesta Group has said it thought its work was focused on a think tank unconnected to politics. The indictment alleges the work was more closely tied to the Ukrainian government.
The indictment refers to The Podesta Group and another lobbying firm, Mercury Public Affairs, as “Company A” and “Company B.”
While the lobbying firms claimed that the European Center for a Modern Ukraine was the client, that organization was actually “under the ultimate direction of the Government of Ukraine, Yaukovych and the Party of Regions,” the indictment said.
“…Company A and Company B were paid for their services not by their nominal client, the Centre, but solely through off-shore accounts associated with the Manafort-Gates entities.”
Moore said that while he does not know Manafort, he does know others who worked for Podesta Group who were involved with the work but not knowingly part of any illegal activity.
“I think it’s terrible, and I think there’s a lot of good people who are being dragged into this that don’t have anything to do with it.”
MetroNews Statewide Correspondent Brad McElhinny contributed to this story.