Clinton administration chief of staff John D. Podesta, who fashioned an expertise on the intersection of technology and law during his White House years, has accepted an appointment at Georgetown University Law Center that will keep him immersed in the same themes. Georgetown will announce today that Podesta, an alumnus and former instructor at its law center, will rejoin the faculty to teach and help launch a Center on Law and Technology.
As Bill Clinton's fourth and last chief of staff, Podesta's domain included technology issues such as regulating the export of encryption software, medical and financial privacy, and security for communications and power networks. He also worked on legal issues closer to home for the Clintons, becoming a damage-control adviser on various controversies, from campaign finance to impeachment.
He has not given up that beat entirely. Last week he was informally advising the former president and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on how to handle uproars caused by their exit from the White House, including the president's last-minute pardons and the couple's decision, just before leaving, to accept $190,000 in gifts from friends and supporters. On Friday, the Clintons said they would pay for $86,000 worth of gifts they received last year.
Podesta was Clinton's staff secretary in the first term, then left to teach at Georgetown Law Center and serve on the staff of Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.C.). He returned in the second term as deputy chief of staff before taking the top staff job in 1998. With his brother, Anthony, he founded Podesta Associates, a lobbying and consulting firm.
Podesta has taught classes in legislation, copyright and public-interest law, and congressional investigations -- the latter, he said yesterday, from the "perspective of the tortured."
Georgetown law dean Judith Areen, in a release prepared for today's announcement, said Podesta will continue to teach those subjects while organizing the new center.
"I've enjoyed my relationship [with Georgetown], and the students keep you on your toes," Podesta said. "I think these are challenging issues. It will be an environment in which I think I can help them establish this center, and they'll help me refine my thinking about these important public policy issues."