Dueling new claims in Podesta divorce

WASHINGTON DC-August 2, 2011: Heather and Tony Podesta (Chairman Podesta Group) attended the intimate
Heather and Tony Podesta in happier days, circa 2011. (Photo by Rebecca D’Angelo/For the Washington Post)

Heather Podesta, whose divorce from fellow super-lobbyist Tony Podesta is shaping up to be a contentious split, says in a new court filing that she wasn’t the only one moving on to a new relationship as the couple’s marriage unraveled.

Tony “was dating and travelling with other women” at the same time that Heather had begun seeing another man — something that Tony earlier claimed she had done unbeknownst to him at a time he was hoping they might reconcile.

Heather says in the new filing that while she had, in fact, begun to date someone in March 2013, after the couple announced their split, she didn’t “misrepresent to [Tony] the possibility of reconciliation.”

Tony’s attorney, Sanford Ain, wouldn’t comment on the allegation about his client dating other women, but a source close to Tony rebutted Heather’s account of the timing, saying that Tony didn’t begin seeing anyone until “well after” he learned Heather had begun dating filmmaker Stephen Kessler.

Ain, however, reiterated that he still hopes they can settle the case. “Tony has tried to reach a reasonable settlement with Heather, but to date, has been unable to do so,” Sandy Ain said in a statement. “While Tony remains hopeful that they will be able to settle their differences, if not, a Judge will have to decide what is equitable.”

“I wish Tony well and look forward to a fair and timely resolution of these issues,” Heather said in a statement. “This is a private matter and it would not be appropriate to comment.”

In the new filing, Heather Podesta also fought back mightily against the suggestion made in her husband’s initial filing, that he, with his longstanding and powerful contacts, was responsible for much of her professional success. That’s “fiction” and a “false narrative,” her lawyers claim, pointing to her pre-martial professional accomplishments, including jobs on the Hill and at “prestigious” law firms.

Tony “appears to deliberately ignore the facts as he knows them about his wife, and the business of lobbying, when he suggests that [Heather’s] success is a result of being his wife,” the filing states.

Both Heather and Tony on Wednesday submitted responses in D.C. Superior Court to one another’s initial filings.

Tony, meanwhile, pushed back against Heather’s claims that she should get their Kalorama house because, as she said, she had “overseen every aspect” of the three-year multi-million-dollar renovation project of the home where the couple entertained and displayed some of their vast, museum-quality art collection.

Instead, he said his contributions outweighed hers, and portrayed the renovations as a team effort, saying that the two met jointly with architects and selected the fixtures and worked on the design together.

And in an indication that the couple’s 1,300-piece collection of art will remain a sticking point in the divorce, he denied her claim that he had blocked her access to a database tracking the collection.

Real estate is another battle front: In the new filing, Heather admitted to changing the locks on their apartment in Venice, Italy, which she says she holds the sole title to it. But she says Tony changed the locks on their Kalorama home, which is in both their names.

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Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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