The 28-year-old Facebook CEO and billionaire — after mostly staying out of the political fray while running his company’s day-to-day operations — is joining with other executives to form an issues advocacy organization, with an initial focus on comprehensive immigration reform, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
The group is forming at a time when the tech industry is stepping up its immigration efforts, with executives advocating key provisions to help in the battle for global talent. But those executives also say they support reforms to create a path to citizenship for undocumented people for the good of the nation and economy.
The sources said Zuckerberg and other tech executives have enlisted the help of Democratic and Republican strategists to create the group that would advocate long-term economic issues.
“Leaders are coming together on a broader agenda,” said a person familiar with the conversations. “It’s not necessarily company driven.”
Zuckerberg recently raised some eyebrows in Democratic circles when he and his wife played host to Gov. Chris Christie at their home for a fundraiser. Protesters stood outside his Palo Alto, Calif., residence during the event for the prominent New Jersey Republican.
he Facebook co-founder has been generous with his money, donating $100 million to Newark, N.J., schools. But when it comes to making campaign contributions, Zuckerberg appears to have made just two donations of $5,000 each to Facebook’s political action committee, according to Open Secrets.
News of the group was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, which said Zuckerberg has committed millions to the effort. A source told POLITICO that the group is likely going to be a nonprofit.
Other than Zuckerberg, a central person involved in the discussions is Joe Green, co-founder of NationBuilder and Causes, who was Zuckerberg’s roommate at Harvard University. Green recently resigned as president of NationBuilder and is now an entrepreneur in residence at Andreessen Horowitz, the venture firm.
Green declined to comment because the group’s formation is in its early stages. A Facebook spokesperson also declined to comment.
Planning for the group began about a month ago, according to sources. The executives are working with a bipartisan group of consultants, including Joe Lockhart of the Glover Park Group; Jon Lerner, a Republican strategist; and Rob Jesmer, a Republican strategist and former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Lockhart, a former White House communications secretary under President Bill Clinton, worked for Facebook as vice president of global communications before departing late last year.