Facebook’s Zuckerberg to launch lobby group with Washington consultants

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is helping launch a new lobbying organization with a group of prominent Washington political consultants and tech executives.

The new group will be set up as a 501(c)(4), which critics often deride as "dark money" because they are not required to disclose their donors. 

Joe Green, founder of Causes.com and Zuckerberg's former college roommate, is spearheading the effort, which will include other executive donors from the tech world.

The new organization will weigh in on issues that are tied to maintaining the United States’ economic competitiveness, including education reform and immigration, according to people familiar with the group’s plans.

New York creative agency SS+K, which worked on President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and other administration initiatives, is involved in the venture, The Hill has learned. The advertising and marketing agency was behind the suggestive "First Time" YouTube ad for the Obama reelection campaign that featured HBO “Girls” creator and actress Lena Dunham.

A group of Washington political consultants have also signed on to support the nonprofit, including Joe Lockhart, senior advisor and co-founder of the Glover Park Group; Republican consultant Jon Lerner; and Rob Jesmer, a partner at public affairs firm FP1 Strategies and former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. 

Lockhart, who served as White House press secretary during the Clinton administration, returned to Glover Park Group earlier this year after serving as vice president of global communications at Facebook.

The San Francisco Chronicle first reported about the formation of the new nonprofit group, whic has yet to be named. A Facebook spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

The first issue the group is expected to advocate for is comprehensive immigration reform, according to someone familiar with the plans. The push comes as lawmakers in both the Senate and House are readying separate proposals that are aimed at overhauling the country’s immigration system.

The tech industry has engaged in an all-out lobbying push for Congress to reform the existing immigration rules for highly skilled and educated foreign workers. Earlier this month, Facebook's Zuckerberg was one of 100 chief executives of major tech companies and trade associations that signed onto a letter calling on President Obama and Congress to reform the immigration rules for highly skilled foreign workers. 

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman and Intel CEO Paul Otellini also signed onto the letter, which was spearheaded by Washington tech trade group TechNet.

Tech companies have been pushing Congress for years to free up more green cards and increase the number of temporary worker visas for foreign highly skilled workers and graduates from U.S. universities with degrees in technical fields.