Facebook’s Zuckerberg recommended Buttigieg campaign hires

Greg Nash

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan recommended two individuals for staff positions on Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, an aide to the South Bend, Ind., mayor confirmed to The Hill. 

Zuckerberg and Chan made the recommendations in emails to Buttigieg’s campaign manager Mike Schmuhl. The two individuals, Eric Mayefsky and Nina Wornhoff, were eventually hired to the campaign. 

{mosads}The emails from Zuckerberg and Chan were first reported on Monday by Bloomberg. The aide to Buttigieg said that the emails were unsolicited and came earlier this year at a time when the campaign was inundated with résumés from people hoping to work for the fledgling presidential bid.

“To give you a sense of what the time was like, we literally had people staking out the coffee shop on the first floor of our building wanting to work for our campaign, hoping to run into someone,” the aide said.

Mayefsky was hired as senior digital analytics adviser and Wornhoff was hired as organizing data manager.

The aide also noted that it wasn’t unusual for campaigns to hire staffers recommended to them. Lis Smith, a senior communications adviser for Buttigieg, tweeted on Monday that the campaign has so far gotten staff recommendations from former presidents, members of Congress and one of Buttigieg’s high school teachers.

Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for Zuckerberg and Chan, did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment. But according to Bloomberg, the couple made the recommendations after Mayefsky and Wornhoff asked them to connect them with the campaign. 

“Having seen Mark’s visit to South Bend in 2017 and Facebook Live with Mayor Buttigieg, colleagues later asked Mark and Priscilla to connect them with the Buttigieg campaign as they were interested in joining,” LaBolt told Bloomberg in a statement.

LaBolt added that Zuckerberg and Chan “have not decided who to support for President.”

Zuckerberg on Monday also made clear that he is not supporting Buttigieg’s campaign.
“This shouldn’t be taken as an endorsement,” Zuckerberg told reporters.
“We have several mutual friends from college who introduced me to Pete a number of years ago. When a number of colleagues I had worked with at Facebook or my philanthropic foundation were interested in working [for the Buttigieg campaign], they asked me or wife Priscilla to send over their resume, and so I did that.”

The revelation that Zuckerberg actively recommended potential hires for Buttigieg’s campaign came as Zuckerburg and Facebook face scathing criticism from Democrats over the website’s resistance to moderating political ads. 

Presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Joe Biden, have spoken out against Facebook’s refusal to fact check or remove political ads containing false or misleading claims.

Facebook has also been at the center of complaints from members of both parties over its handling of user data and its role in misinformation campaigns.

Zuckerberg has not donated to any candidate this year. His only political donation this year was a $5,000 contribution to Facebook’s PAC, which gives money to both Democrats and Republicans. 

Zuckerberg and Buttigieg both attended Harvard University in the early 2000s and Buttigieg was friends with two of Zuckerberg’s roommates, including Chris Hughes, one of Facebook’s co-founders who has since become a vocal critic of the social media platform.

— Updated at 1:57 p.m.

Tags 2020 election Democratic primary Elizabeth Warren Facebook Joe Biden Mark Zuckerberg Pete Buttigieg

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