In an attempt to advance the lobbying for Libra, Facebook has added Susan Zook of Mason Street Consulting, to its team of lobbyists. Zook was formerly the aide of Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. In an email addressed to PI, Zook stated that she will be focussing on lobbying Senate Republicans.
Incidentally, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on Libra in the previous month, which was attended by David Marcus, the company’s blockchain head. The hearing did not go well for Facebook with one senator even remarking that Facebook was “delusional” to launch its own cryptocurrency.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said that “Like a toddler who has gotten his hands on a book of matches, Facebook has burned down the house over and over, and called every arson a learning experience.” Marcus said that Facebook is aware of the fact that it has to “earn people’s trust for a very long period of time.” He later mentioned in Twitter that the hearing session was a “thoughtful” experience.
Reports indicate that Facebook has spend $7.5 million on lobbying in the Washington channels so far this year by using the help of a dozen outside lobbying firms. It has hired Sternhell Group and the Cypress Group, along with the law firm Davis Polk to exclusively work on the Libra issue. In addition, Facebook’s in-house team of lobbyists are also working on the Libra project. Facebook is also said to have enlisted the services of Edward Bowles, a former senior bank lobbyist from Standard Chartered, to look into the group’s public and regulatory affairs.
Facebook unveiled the details about Libra in last June and since then financial regulators have voiced their concerns over the various aspects of the project. Various questions were raised about the privacy, data protection and anti-money laundering issues concerning Libra. Even the regulators in Europe expressed concerns about the risks that Libra may pose to global finance and the central banks.Though Facebook planned for Libra to launch globally by 2020, its plans could very well be delayed due to the amount of opposition the project is facing.
Recently the Federal Trade Commission also approved a $5 billion fine over Facebook’s handling of private data related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In spite of the associated controversies, Facebook’s performance did not take a hit and its share prices have risen by more than 50 percent in the current year.