For hour after hour on Tuesday afternoon, Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered questions from the Judiciary and Commerce committees, representing almost half the Senate.
Behind him were two individuals, visible in the video feeds. To Zuckerberg’s left, in green, sat a Facebook star lobbyist Myriah Jordan, whose official title is public policy director. Jordan had previously worked in Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)’s office where she was general counsel, and before that worked for the George W. Bush administration as special assistant for policy.
On Zuckerberg’s right sat Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s VP of global public policy. Kaplan served as George W. Bush’s deputy chief of staff, where he succeeded Karl Rove. Kaplan clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and came to Facebook from Texas electric utility Energy Future Holdings.
Wednesday at the House
Zuckerberg was back on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning, and the faces in the camera’s direct view behind him changed somewhat. From left to right: Pearl Del Rosario, associate general counsel; Catlin O’Neill, public policy director; Joel Kaplan; Chris Herndon, public policy director.
O’Neill, granddaughter of a former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, worked in the office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for 10 years. Del Rosario has not worked for the government. Herndon was the counsel for the Senate committee on commerce, science and transportation, the legislative director for former Rep. George Radanovich, and legislative counsel serving Rep. Patrick McHenry.
The faces behind Zuckerberg, doubtless familiar to many of the lawmakers present, illustrate the importance of government relations and lobbying efforts for large tech companies in Silicon Valley.
The CEO’s talking points, left open on the desk for photographers to see, showed the careful prep work that went into Zuckerberg’s polished performance that had him parrying almost all of the senators’ jabs.
Fundstrat’s Thomas Block, who has prepared witnesses for tough congressional hearings before, told Yahoo Finance that the government relations employees did a good job preparing Zuckerberg.
“He was well-prepared, had obviously had good practice sessions and importantly seemed to catch the right balance between personal poise yet respectful to the senators,” said Block. “The market seemed to like performance.”