An Obama Tradition Continues: Biden Taps Facebook Lobbyist for Top Admin Post

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November 20, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden on Friday announced the selection of Louisa Terrell as his legislative affairs director. Like most of the people Biden has tapped for senior roles in his administration, Terrell formerly worked in lobbying shops for controversial corporations such as Facebook, Yahoo, and McKinsey & Company.

The decision is in keeping with former president Barack Obama's proud tradition of hiring corporate lobbyists—despite explicitly campaigning against the influence of such lobbyists in Washington. Terrell is merely the latest former lobbyist to earn a senior role in the Biden administration.

Biden's incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, previously lobbied on behalf of U.S. Airways, AOL Time Warner, Fannie Mae, and ImClone, a pharmaceutical company whose CEO was convicted of fraud. His deputy chief of staff, Jen O'Malley Dillon, cofounded an "integrated strategy and marketing agency" that was recently hired to represent private equity firms. The incoming counselor to the president, Steve Ricchetti, previously lobbied for AT&T, Eli Lily, and the American Bankers Association.

Terrell served as public policy director for Facebook from 2009 to 2011, years before the tech giant would come to be viewed as an enemy by Democratic supporters as well as by journalists, who are inclined to blame Facebook for helping to elect Donald Trump in 2016. Recently, Terrell served as deputy general counsel and public affairs director for McKinsey & Company, the controversial consulting firm with ties to a price-fixing scandal involving Canadian bread.

Progressive politicians and activists are unlikely to be thrilled by Terrell's hiring, given her relationship with one of the reviled (of late) Big Tech companies. Many expressed outrage, for example, upon learning that Biden was reportedly considering tapping former Google CEO Eric Schmidt for a senior White House role.

Biden's actions since being declared the presumptive winner of the 2020 election, however, have suggested rather strongly that he doesn't really care about the feelings of progressive activists. It is one of his most redeeming qualities.