A former Facebook executive who joined the White House as President Joe Biden’s staff secretary is departing the administration as scrutiny of the social media giant mounts.
Jessica Hertz, a former director and associate counsel for regulatory affairs at Facebook, joined the Biden-Harris transition in early September 2020. She was named general counsel later that month.
Hertz began her political career under former President Barack Obama as counselor to Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Cass Sunstein. She later joined the Justice Department, followed by the office of then-Vice President Biden.
Now, less than 10 months into Biden’s administration, Hertz is leaving one of the White House’s most powerful posts. The White House has not given a reason for Hertz’s departure nor announced a replacement.
The staff secretary position has long operated as a springboard for politically astute staffers.
Democratic power-broker John Podesta held the role before taking the reins as former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman and New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney also held the post under Clinton.
It’s a grueling job that offers few short-term rewards, particularly in an administration casting a skeptical look at Big Tech companies.
“Staff secretary is one of those important but not ultimately rewarding White House jobs that people sometimes take in anticipation of getting a bigger job down the line. You can think of it as a bullpen,” said Jeff Hauser, who runs the Revolving Door Project, a liberal government accountability group. “That’s not the brass ring, right?”
Hertz’s close ties to Facebook may have hampered her prospects of advancement inside the Biden administration. Appointments to the Federal Trade Commission and DOJ have all signaled a strong antitrust posture, Hauser said.
Meanwhile, Hertz’s earlier role as OIRA counselor to former administrator Cass Sunstein granted her broad entry into federal regulatory workings.
“You have some visibility into almost the entire government from a regulatory standpoint,” Hauser said, including “what regulatory threats might exist to a company like Facebook.”
He added, “You understand the regulatory capacity of the government — any large multinational corporation is going to value that greatly.”
Hertz’s close ties to Facebook drew scrutiny in the final days of the 2020 presidential campaign when Biden’s transition team appointed her as its top ethics czar.
Upon joining the administration, Hertz’s filings revealed that she earned $780,000 in salary from the tech giant in 2020, from which she also divested between $100,000 and $1 million.
As the transition ethics czar, Hertz was paid $98,654. She also received $20,000 in salary from Columbia University in 2020 for her work as a lecturer in law, according to her disclosure form.
Hertz was Biden’s principal deputy counsel during the Obama administration’s second term, where she oversaw “a wide range of government inquiries and regulatory investigations,” according to a Columbia Law School biography that was later removed.
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Original Author: Katherine Doyle
Original Location: Former Facebook executive leaving White House staff secretary post