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Zuckerberg hires former Clinton staffer

Zuckerberg hires former Clinton staffer
August 04
15:10 2017

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have added the chief strategist to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign to their payroll, fanning flames of speculation that the Facebook CEO has his eye on the political arena, according to reports.

Joel Benenson’s company, Benenson Strategy Group, will be conducting research for the couple’s charity, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, according to an unamed source close to the matter, cited by Politico. The philanthropy — launched in 2015 — is aimed at “advancing human potential and promoting equal opportunity,” and is funded by the couple’s Facebook fortune.

In addition to working closely with Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, Benenson previously served as a top adviser to former President Barack Obama.

The hire comes amid a series of others that further suggest Zuckerberg has an eye on pushing his philanthropy into the political field, according to the report.

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In January, the couple hired David Plouffe, the campaign manager for Obama’s 2008 presidential bid as the president of policy and advocacy. And earlier this year, they brought on Amy Dudley who previously worked as a communications adviser to Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine.

Ken Mehlman, who ran George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, is also among those with political backgrounds on the charity’s board.

Rumors surrounding Zuckerberg’s potential bid for office were sparked earlier this year by his road trip through Iowa — the first state to caucus in the primaries, according to Politico.

Joel Benenson worked as the chief strategist in Hillary Clinton's failed presidential campaign.

Joel Benenson worked as the chief strategist in Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign.


He also toured a Ford assembly plant outside Detroit, a key city won by President Trump during the 2016 election. Zuckerberg has also visited Ohio, long considered to be a swing state in the presidential race.

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The trips come amid the billionaire’s ambition to visit every state across the country within the year.

Still, Zuckerberg has previously shut down talk surrounding his personal political aspirations.

“Some of you have asked if this challenge means I’m running for public office,” he wrote on Facebook in May. “I’m not.”

What’s more, the Benenson Strategy Group works for a series of nonprofits in addition to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the AARP, and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.

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