Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg's campaign staff includes two staff members who were personally recommended to Buttigieg by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Bloomberg reported Monday.
Zuckerberg sent multiple emails to Buttigieg campaign manager Mike Schmuhl earlier this year with the names of recommended candidates. Zuckerberg's wife, Priscilla Chan, did the same.
The Buttigieg campaign ended up hiring Eric Mayefsky as senior digital analytics adviser and Nina Wornhoff as organizing data manager. Mayefsky was a four-year Facebook employee who most recently had worked as Quora's director of data science. Wornhoff was previously a machine learning engineer at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
What's the connection?
Zuckerberg and Buttigieg were both at Harvard at the same time. Although they were not friends during their time at school, Buttigieg was friends with two of Zuckerberg's college roommates, according to Bloomberg. Buttigieg was one of the first 300 users of Facebook, and he was introduced to Zuckerberg years later by a mutual friend.
Zuckerberg told reporters Monday that the hiring recommendations should not be viewed as support of the Buttigieg campaign, however they might look.
"I think this should probably not be misconstrued as if I'm like deeply involved in trying to support their campaign or something like that," Zuckerberg said.
Will it influence Buttigieg?
While Buttigieg may be a bit friendlier toward big tech companies than counterparts such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), it is not apparent yet what influence his Facebook connections may have or have had on his campaign.
While he has received numerous donations from Facebook executives and has been active in fundraising in Silicon Valley, he has joined other Democrats in calling for regulation, including potential fines or blocked mergers, for large companies like Facebook.
President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign had Facebook employees on hand for assistance, something that members of that campaign said was a significant benefit in terms of how to best utilize the platform.