Facebook has expanded its lobbying campaign to help "sell" its upcoming Libra digital currency. As the social media giant faces a growing crisis of trust, policymakers are threatening to make this digital currency “cheated”.
In addition to the internal lobbying team, Facebook also hired two lobbying companies with extensive experience in Washington's financial services, Sternhell Group and Cypress Group, to deal with Libra's problems, according to people familiar with the matter. Another person familiar with the matter said the company had commissioned Davis Polk to help with regulatory concerns.
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Facebook has also relied on other companies it hires on other issues to help policymakers reviewing the digital currency, including BakerHostetler and OB-C Group.
Tripp Baird of Off Hill Strategies, a lobbying company hired by Facebook, said:
"At this point, science is the first and most important step to make people aware of what it is and its launch, and let people accept this idea. This is our current priority, but also in response to members of Congress and the government. Any questions the official may raise."
Facebook is trying to increase its lobbying power because both legislators and regulators are questioning Libra's risk to the financial system and whether Libra should be allowed to move forward.
After Facebook officially announced Libra last month, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned that this caused “many serious concerns” involving privacy, money laundering and consumer protection.
Congress immediately took action, and the Senate and the House of Representatives held two hearings in succession on the Facebook payment network. Facebook and its partners plan to launch the network next year. Maxine Waters, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and other members of Congress have called for Facebook to suspend the project.
Before last week's hearing, lawmakers heard directly from some of Facebook's key employees, including David Marcus, executive of the company's financial services subsidiary; Lee Brenner, head of public policy at the blockchain; and Chris Randle, Facebook lobbyist. And Myriah Jordan.
Randle joined the company last year and previously served as a Democratic assistant in the House and Senate. Jordan served as a member of Congressional Richard Burr and the General Counsel of the Bush administration.
Dante Disparte, director of policy and communications at the Libra Association, a non-profit organization, also attended the Libra report. The Libra Association is working with Facebook and its partners to manage Libra. Facebook plans to run a digital "wallet" called Calibra that users can trade in this new digital currency.
Libra's debut in Washington was helped by some experienced veterans who traveled the area. Among them is Kevin Edgar of BakerHostetler, who served as the Chief Legal Adviser of the House Financial Services Committee under the former Republican Party Chairman Jeb Hensarling; Baird of Off Hill, former Director of the Senate Relations Department; Daniel Kidera of OB-C Group, a non-profit organization Everytown for Gun Safety and the Obama administration work.
Facebook's lobbying power for Libra is further supported by Cypress Group and Sternhell Group. The two companies were not previously registered as lobbyists for the social media company, but they are well-founded in the financial services arena. As of press time, they have not disclosed the news of lobbying for Facebook.
Cypress is a partner of Trump's former deputy chief of staff, Rick Dearborn, and represents Citigroup and several major US insurance companies. Sternhell was founded by former Senate Banking Committee Democratic Assistant Alex Sternhell, and clients include the Banking Policy Institute Trade Association and the non-profit cryptocurrency policy currency center.
As of press time, Facebook, Cypress and Davis Polk declined to comment on the matter. Sternhell and OB-C have not responded to the request for comment.