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October 21, 2019

Mark Zuckerberg isn't running for president, but he's sure getting close.

The Facebook founder and CEO, along with wife Priscilla Chan, emailed South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg with suggestions of staffers to hire for his 2020 campaign, emails obtained by Bloomberg reveal. Buttigieg ended up taking their advice when hiring at least two of his staffers, and yet Zuckerberg and Chan won't say that means they're supporting Buttigieg for president.

Buttigieg and Zuckerberg have known each other since they overlapped years at Harvard University, and Buttigieg often mentions how he was one of Facebook's first 300 users. But their political ties seemed to take off when Zuckerberg visited South Bend on his philanthropic tour that looked a bit like a presidential precursor. After seeing that trip, "colleagues later asked Mark and Priscilla to connect them with the Buttigieg campaign as they were interested in joining," spokesperson for the Zuckerberg-Chan family Ben LaBolt told Bloomberg, adding that Zuckerberg and Chan haven't decided on a presidential favorite yet.

Zuckerberg and Chan recommended several different campaign staffers, and the Buttigieg campaign ended up hiring two of them: Eric Mayefsky, senior digital analytics adviser, and Nina Wornhoff, organizing data manager. Zuckerberg and Chan initiated the conversations shortly after Buttigieg's campaign began, with a Buttigieg spokesperson saying that Zuckerberg and Chan probably "thought" those people would "be good staff hire[s] with a lot of experience."

The report comes in sharp contrast to the big tech breakup Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is pushing for on the campaign trail. Republicans too have raised issue with Facebook and other tech giants, saying without much evidence that they're biased against conservative content. Zuckerberg is set to testify for Congress this week about his platform's cryptocurrency. Kathryn Krawczyk

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