As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes his lumps on Capitol Hill, there are at least two people in Raleigh who are paying extremely close attention.
The social media giant has two registered lobbyists in North Carolina’s capital this year, according to state records.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. While the federal government would take the lead on any regulation of the corporate entity, Facebook is part of so much of daily life. There’s also real estate to deal with — Facebook owns a large data center in Forest City.
Both Facebook’s lobbyists here in North Carolina are with the firm Ward and Smith, P.A., a statewide law firm and government affairs shop.
Both are two of the state’s top young rising-star attorneys.
Here they are:
Whitney Campbell Christensen is a Raleigh-based lobbyist and attorney specializing in intellectual property. She joined Ward and Smith in 2015 after working in-house at the North Carolina League of Municipalities and the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.
Christensen was a “rising star” in North Carolina Super Lawyers this year and has been named to the 40 Under 40 in the Triangle Business Journal.
It’s hard to say exactly what she does for Facebook, but her wheelhouse intersects with several of the company’s interests.
One project seems clearly tied to Facebook. Her bio says she represented a “large social media company” in drafting legislation governing how fiduciaries can get access to clients’ digital assets. That would include Facebook profiles for people who have died.
Christensen has also worked on data breach statues and economic incentives for a company working on a $200 million expansion project.
She has nine other clients at the General Assembly this year, including the cryptocurrency company Coinbase.
Lee C. Hodge is actually based in New Bern and is primarily a business and tax lawyer. The 2008 Wake Forest Law grad helps clients deal with the state’s executive branch entities and has represented companies facing complicated property tax cases.
Hodge does a lot of work with tech companies, and was named to Business North Carolina’s “Legal Elite” this year. He also represents background screening firm Castle Branch Inc. as a lobbyist.
Other Ward and Smith lobbyists have repped Facebook since the company first established a presence in Raleigh in 2011, including Angie Smith and Heather Barrett.
Ed Turlington and Charles Marshall of Brooks Pierce represented Facebook in 2011 and 2012.