Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted Monday that he played a role in hiring members of Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, but said the gesture did not amount to an endorsement of the South Bend, Indiana, mayor.
“We have 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,” Zuckerberg said Monday on a conference call with the media, The Hill reported.
“This shouldn’t be taken as an endorsement.”
“This should not be misconstrued as if I’m deeply involved in trying to support their campaign or something like that,” Zuckerberg said, according to Fox News.
Others put a more sinister spin on the story.
A billionaire big tech CEO who won’t take down fake ads on Facebook is giving secret campaign advice to his old Harvard buddy running for president. This is not a good look.https://t.co/Z4XppMnCFL
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) October 21, 2019
During the debate, Buttigieg went after Warren on Medicare For All, a policy he called the “compromise position” in February.
Today, we find out Zuckerberg is his shadow campaign adviser. Warren wants to break up Facebook.
He tried to draw a contrast with her. He damn sure has.
— Emma Vigeland (@EmmaVigeland) October 21, 2019
Chris Meagher, a campaign spokesman for Buttigieg, said Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, each sent a private email recommending a potential hire, CNN reported.
The two job candidates, Eric Mayefsky and Nina Wornhoff, were eventually hired for the campaign. Mayefsky was hired as senior digital analytics adviser and Wornhoff was hired as organizing data manager.
The Hill quoted an aide to Buttigieg it did not name as saying the recommendations from Zuckerberg and Chan were not solicited and came when the campaign was buried in resumes.
“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.
Campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith made similar comments on Twitter.
Other people we have gotten staff recommendations from:
– former Presidents
– civil rights leaders
– members of Congress
– Pete’s high school teacher
We make staff decisions on how to build the best team in politics, which I’m proud to report we have! https://t.co/Y9CXvBKYdb
— Lis Smith (@Lis_Smith) October 21, 2019
Both Zuckerberg and Buttigieg attended Harvard University in 2003 and 2004, the year Buttigieg graduated.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts lashed out at Facebook when asked about her reaction to Zuckerberg’s involvement with a rival candidate.
Zuckerberg “runs a company that has too much political power,” she said, CNN reported.
“They already have way too much influence in Washington and they are helping drive every conversation in a way that will protect Mark Zuckerberg and his company, but that undermines our democracy,” she said.
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