Benenson sticking with Burson after Chan Zuckerberg hire

At least one report suggested the hire was a sign Zuckerberg will run for office. However, Burson's Mike Fernandez disagreed.

WASHINGTON: Joel Benenson is staying in his role as worldwide vice chair at Burson-Marsteller alongside his work for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

The organization hired Benenson as a consultant and brought on his firm, Benenson Strategy Group, to conduct reserach, according to a Wednesday evening report by Politico.

Burson U.S. CEO Mike Fernandez confirmed that Benenson remains head of Benenson Strategy Group and worldwide vice chair at Burson, a role he began in January. A representative from Benenson Strategy Group did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

Benenson was the chief strategist on the 2016 Hillary for America campaign and also conducted research and polling for President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. He has worked with clients such as AARP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Football League, and Procter & Gamble. Benenson also worked with Burson worldwide chair and CEO Don Baer in President Bill Clinton’s administration and on Clinton’s 1996 reelection effort.

Zuckerberg’s hire of Benenson is a sign the Facebook CEO is considering a run for office, according to Politico. However, Fernandez disagreed with that conclusion.

"[Benenson] has a large variety of business and nonprofit clients," he said. "No one should assume that because someone has hired Joel or Joel’s firm that they are running for public office, even though the firm still provides assistance to political candidates, as well."

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative began building out its comms team early this year, adding a chief spokesperson, director of comms for education, and director of communications for science. The philanthropic organization, launched in December 2015, focuses on innovation in science and education.

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