Politics & Government

Zuckerberg 2020? Facebook founder may have political ambitions, according to lawsuit

Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook, has tried to enact a plan that would allow him to take a government position or office for two years while maintaining control of the social media website.
Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook, has tried to enact a plan that would allow him to take a government position or office for two years while maintaining control of the social media website. AP

Mark Zuckerberg has spent much of the past month of so defending the role or lack thereof that his company, Facebook, played in the 2016 presidential election.

But despite his insistence that the idea of Facebook somehow influencing the election of Republican Donald Trump through the spread of fake news is “pretty crazy,” the billionaire CEO could potentially seek political office or a government role, according to recently unsealed documents from an April lawsuit.

The lawsuit was brought by minority investors in Facebook in response to a plan formed by Zuckerberg that would allow him to retain control of the company even as he sold his majority of shares in the Facebook’s stock, according to The Guardian.

In essence, Zuckerberg’s proposal would create a new class of non-voting shares, which would dilute the power of current investors and allow him to sell his non-voting shares and keep control, according to Bloomberg. Because Zuckerberg owns a majority of shares, however, the proposal was approved by stockholders, leaving Facebook’s board as the only remaining hurdle to Zuckerberg’s plan.

The board approved the plan, but several minority investors sued Zuckerberg, arguing that the process was not brokered fairly and that a key board member, Marc Andreessen, acted to protect Zuckerberg, not investors.

Because of that lawsuit, details of Zuckerberg’s plans have been revealed in court documents, and one in particular troubled some on the board, according to CNBC: Zuckerberg wanted to be able to take a two-year leave of absence to serve in a “government position or office” without losing control of the company, which is worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Zuckerberg’s interest in working outside of the tech company that has made him one of the richest people in world is nothing new. He and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, have pledged to donate 99 percent of their shares, currently valued at $45 billion, to charity during their lifetimes.

Politically, Zuckerberg has contributed thousands to the campaigns of both Democrats and Republicans in the past, according to USPolitics.com. However, he does not identify as a member of either party, according to Bloomberg, and despite the fact that he and Facebook’s super PAC have donated more to Republicans than Democrats in the past, his relationship with Republican President-elect Donald Trump has been antagonistic at times during the past election cycle.

Zuckerberg has spoken out on the issues of healthcare, immigration and globalization in the past.

At the moment, though, Zuckerberg’s plan is on hold, at least until the lawsuit is resolved, according to CNBC.

Meanwhile, other members of Facebook’s leadership have not shied away from getting involved in the political world. Facebook board member Peter Thiel, who supported Trump’s candidacy, is a member of his transition team preparing for his entrance into the White House. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, meanwhile, would have been a leading contender for a Cabinet position had Democrat Hillary Clinton won the election, according to Politico.

Zuckerberg is a resident of Palo Alto, Calif. California’s 18th Congressional District, where he lives, has not had a Republican representative since 1983, and California has had only Democratic senators since 1992.

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