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Emails Show Zuckerberg Recommended Hires for Buttigieg Campaign

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees, April 10, 2018. (Alex Brandon/Pool/Reuters)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recommended colleagues as potential hires for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign soon after the South Bend, Ind., mayor launched his presidential bid in mid-April.

Buttigieg campaign spokesman Chris Meagher confirmed to Bloomberg News that Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, had initiated the contact by sending several emails recommending individuals as potential campaign hires. A Zuckerberg-Chan family spokesman said that the employees had asked to be recommended.

Zuckerberg overlapped with Buttigieg at Harvard, where the two shared mutual friends, and Buttigieg was one of the first 300 users of Facebook. Zuckerberg visited Buttigieg in 2017 and live-streamed a tour of South Bend given by the mayor.

“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,” Zuckerberg-Chan spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement. “Mark and Priscilla have not decided who to support for President.”

LaBolt did not answer a follow-up asking if the couple had made similar connections with other campaigns.

Of the several individuals recommended, two are currently on staff: Eric Mayefsky, senior digital-analytics adviser, and Nina Wornhoff, organizing data manager. Mayefsky previously worked at Quora, a startup founded by former Facebook employees, while Wornhoff worked as a machine-learning engineer at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and in Democratic politics in Indiana, Buttigieg’s home state.

“From the CNN Town hall in March to our launch a month later, we literally got 7,000 resumes,” Meagher said. “I think that he (Zuckerberg) thought Eric would be a good staff hire with a lot of experience and same with Nina.”

The news comes days after Zuckerberg defended free speech on his platform and condemned Chinese censorship.  He also defended a recently announced policy that allows politicians and political campaigns to create false of misleading content on the platform.

Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify on Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee on Facebook’s business impact.

Facebook has come under fire from other Democratic campaigns during the election cycle, especially by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), who has called for the breakup of giant tech firms. In July, leaked audio revealed Zuckerberg called Warren an “existential” threat to the company.

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