Facebook has friended two top former aides to former President George W. Bush, as the burgeoning social network continues to ramp up its lobbying and public policy work in Washington.
Former Bush deputy chief of staff Joel Kaplan will join Facebook in June to become its vice president of U.S. public policy. Also starting next month is Myriah Jordan, who once worked in the same White House office as Kaplan but most recently served as general counsel to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). Jordan will become a policy manager focused on congressional relations next month.
Yet Facebook will also temporarily lose one of its recent star Republican hires. Cathie Martin is taking a leave of absence to address personal matters, the company said.
The two new D.C. policy hires announced Tuesday continue a pattern of growth at Facebook’s Washington office. The company’s D.C. operation has matured from a small, one-man shop in 2007 into what at full strength will be a 12-member team that counts four former White House aides among its ranks.
The new help comes at a critical time, when Facebook finds itself in political crosshairs as debates on Capitol Hill over online privacy, child safety and cybersecurity intensify.
“At Facebook, we’re committed to explaining how our service works; the important actions we take to protect the more than 500 million people who use our service; and the value of innovation to our economy,” said spokesman Andrew Noyes. “This work occurs daily in Washington, at the state level and with policymakers around the world.”
“It’s imperative to scale our policy team so that we have the resources in place to demonstrate to policymakers that we are industry leaders in privacy, data security and safety,” Noyes added.
It’s precisely those issues that have put Facebook under Washington’s microscope this year. As the company comes to command a more visible blip on the Beltway’s policy radar, its Washington shop has taken on influential talent.
The hiring spree began with Facebook’s pickup last year of Marne Levine, formerly chief of staff to the National Economic Council. Levine technically is not a lobbyist, but she took the reins as vice president of global public policy in June 2010. She joined an office already staffed by Democratic lobbyists Adam Conner, Facebook’s first D.C. hire, and Tim Sparapani, a public policy director well known for his previous privacy work with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Yet the social giant has grown considerably in the opening months of 2011, too. Facebook relocated its office closer to downtown, and picked up new staff to handle communications in D.C. Facebook also made its first outside lobbying hires, signing on for the year two well-connected lobbying shops: Fierce, Isakowitz and Blalock and Elmendorf Ryan.
Facebook added notable Republican talent in February by bringing on Martin — once a top Bush aide, a communications expert for former Vice President Dick Cheney and the wife of former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.
When Martin tempoarily departs her role, Sparapani and new-hire Jordan will connect with Capitol Hill.
Kaplan, the other new addition, will oversee Facebook’s public policy work at the federal and state levels beginning June 13. He will lead Washington operations, but report to Levine.
Kaplan brings to Facebook years of experience and important connections in Washington: as a former aide to the president, and once the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. He arrives most recently from Energy Future Holdings, where he oversaw public policy and external affairs as its executive vice president.
Jordan will joins the operation on June 6. During her time in Burr's office as general cousel she focused on trade, immigration, technology, national security and constitutional law. Her resume includes time spent in the office of the chief of staff during the Bush administration, focusing on policy. She also served as deputy general counsel for the office of the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
This article first appeared on POLITICO Pro at 5:34 a.m. on May 26, 2011.
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