The charitable initiative of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, has reportedly taken on Democratic pollster Joel Benenson as a consultant, further fuelling speculation about his possible political ambitions.
Benenson was a strategist for both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, and was the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s doomed campaign last year. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative also took on Obama campaign manager David Plouffe earlier this year to head up policy and advocacy, as well as Amy Dudley, a former adviser to Clinton running mate Tim Kaine who is now the charity’s spokesperson.
Politico reported Thursday that the charity had hired Benenson’s consultancy to conduct research. In a statement given to the publication, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative insisted that its research is only focused on the charity’s work in “science, education, housing, and criminal justice reform.”
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However, while these are all areas that will require a degree of political navigation, the hire is sure to feed into those persistent rumors of Zuckerberg considering a presidential run.
Although the Facebook CEO has categorically denied being interested in the country’s top position, supporters set up a presidential Super PAC in May with the aim of “convincing the American people to convince Mark Zuckerberg to consider a Presidential run in 2020, or at least join the conversation.”