Speed Reads

Facebook fallout

'It's almost like a scarlet letter': Why prominent Democrats are 'rebuffing' lucrative roles at Facebook

Embattled tech giant Facebook has reportedly been having trouble hiring, among other roles, a "big-name Democrat" to head up U.S. lobbying operations, an otherwise well-paying role that contenders fear could be the "worst job in Washington," writes The Wall Street Journal.

Amid tensions with Congress and the White House, "prominent Democrats have been rebuffing lucrative jobs" at the company, while "senior Democratic lobbyists have been leaving its Washington team," reports the Journal. Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone denied any sort of staffing or retention problem, noting "it takes time to find the right person," per the Journal.

But the problem at large is just another example of "the company's declining political fortunes," and could complicate efforts to influence Democrats' internet-platform rulemaking.

"I thought to myself, 'Am I taking the worst job in Washington?'" said Crystal Patterson, a former Facebook employee who agreed in February to help manage congressional Democratic outreach. She quit last month. 

"At this point," she told the Journal, "it's almost like a scarlet letter working for Facebook."

Katie Harbath, one of Facebook's former Republican Washington employees, said the change of heart for Democrats began after the 2016 election. "It was like an overnight switch," she explained. "It went from working at the coolest company to the company that got Donald Trump elected, in their eyes."

Other Democratic lobbyists have cited a 2019 instance — when Facebook declined to remove a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) edited to make her look drunk — as reason for avoiding the company. They would rather stay in Pelosi's "good graces."

And "testy" relations with the White House are yet another reason Democratic veterans have eschewed canoodling with Zuckerberg, said the Journal.

"It's the same reason Democrats don't work for the NRA," said Democratic lobbyist Pat Williams. "You still have to look yourself in the mirror."