Facebook’s Zuckerberg teams up with well known Jewish political consultant

Jon Lerner

As was first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle and later covered in greater detail by the WSJ, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is in the process of launching a new political advocacy group consisting of top leaders in the tech industry that will lobby for federal legislative reform on issues ranging from immigration to education.

Zuckerberg is working on launching the group with several consultants including Jon Lerner, an Orthodox Jew who does not work from sundown on Friday until sundown Saturdays even in the midst of close political campaigns. Lerner, who lives in Maryland, works in DC, and is from Minnesota, has worked for several candidates including South Carolinians Mark Sanford, Nikki Haley, and Tim Scott, in addition to Tim Pawlenty’s campaign during the 2012 Republican primary. Lerner has also worked with Club for Growth and has headed the Club’s efforts on behalf of Senators Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, and Pat Toomey.

Lerner also considers the ‘legendary’ consultant Arthur Finkelstein as one of his mentors. Finkelstein has faced some criticism lately for his advice to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Finkelstein is blamed for advising Netanyahu to join forces with Avigdor Lieberman’s hard-line nationalist Yisrael Beitenu Party confidently predicting the combined party would gain at least 45 seats. The party gained only 31 seats providing Netanyahu and Likud a tough challenge in putting together a new government. Finkelstein is also blamed for misreading the US presidential election and advising Netanyahu to very warmly receive Mitt Romney in Israel. A move many interpreted as an indirect endorsement of Romney and a case of Netanyahu meddling in internal US politics.

In Lerner’s own words on how he came to know Finkelstein and work with him

“It was the first big race that I did in 1996. I was the campaign manager for Rudy Boschwitz’s U.S. Senate race in Minnesota. Arthur Finkelstein was the pollster and general consultant on that race. And over the course of the race I got to know Arthur and I think the world of him. He’s a brilliant guy, probably the most brilliant guy in the business. He’s helped me a great deal and I’m tremendously grateful to him and enjoy the friendship I have with him.”

Some have already criticized Zuckerberg for involving someone with such hard right views but others say that if the group hopes to garner any bipartisan support from Congress then it must include members from both parties.

As The San Francisco Chronicle put it

A GOP source called the tech leaders’ choice of consultants “unbelievable,” given that they’ve worked for a lot of hard-right candidates and issues that horrify many in the latte-drinking … uh, Facebook-using enclaves of Silicon Valley.


Others say that if the goal of the tech leaders is to get bipartisan support, they’ve got to get respected strategists who can persuade conservative GOPers on Capitol Hill to “like” their ideas.


This should be interesting.


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