Airbnb hires veteran of the Clinton White House

Airbnb hires veteran of the Clinton White House

Airbnb, which connects visitors with people looking to rent out their apartment or home for a short time, hired Chris Lehane, a Democratic operative and top adviser to the Clinton White House, as its new head of global public policy.  

The company said Lehane will focus on turning its millions of users into “advocates for the right to home share” as it navigates a host of differing regulations at the state level. 


The San Francisco company, which has been valued at more than $25 billion, is part of the so-called sharing economy that has gained increased attention in Washington and on the presidential campaign trail. 

Airbnb has been lobbying in Washington since 2012, with an average spending level of $65,000 per quarter. 

Lehane is based in San Francisco and has worked as a consultant for Airbnb in the past. He helps run the California-based communications firm Fabiani & Lehane. 

He is a veteran of the Clinton White House, which waded through a number of scandals in the 1990s during the birth of the 24-hour news cycle. He also served as a press secretary for Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreGinsburg calls proposal to eliminate Electoral College 'more theoretical than real' Difference between primaries and caucuses matters in this election Emma Thompson pens op-ed on climate change: 'Everything depends on what we do now' MORE’s presidential campaign, which ultimately suffered a narrow defeat amid a contentious Florida recount. 

Lehane replaces David Hantman, the former chief of staff for Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall Pelosi: 'People are dying' because McConnell won't bring up gun legislation MORE (D-N.Y.), who stepped down to relieve the pressure of the commute between San Francisco and his home in New York. 

Lehane has worked on a number of high-profile issues since then, including the merger of AT&T and DirecTV, which recently got the green light, and climate change as a strategist for billionaire Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate. 

Lehane helped lead Steyer to national recognition in last year’s election cycle, when Steyer tried to make climate change a top campaign issue, mostly through spending $74 million for candidates. 

It’s unclear how Lehane’s move to the home-rental site will effect Steyer’s plans for the 2016 election. So far, NextGen has focused mostly on shaming GOP presidential contenders for climate skepticism or close ties to the billion brothers Charles and David Koch, to whom Steyer has often been compared.

A number of political operatives and public officials have transitioned to Silicon Valley companies in recent years, including Jay Carney, who joined Amazon after leaving the Obama White House. President Obama’s former campaign manager David Plouffe went to Uber, the ride hailing company, last year. 

Facebook also hired former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin recently as its vice president for mobile and global access policy. 

— Timothy Cama contributed to this report.