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Facebook's Washington Operation Adds Two More Boots on the Ground

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, February 17 2011

Facebook's Washington DC office is expanding with the addition of Katie Harbath, reports Politico's Alexander Burns. Harbath, whose most recent job has been as the National Republican Senatorial Committee's chief digital strategist, will work with Facebook's Adam Conner in, says the company, "directing our outreach to elected officials, campaigns, and political organizations" as they set about using Facebook in their political work.

The 2012 election season is, of course, ramping up, and Harbath's background in Republican politics adds a little political diversity to the Facebook outreach team. Conner's work in politics included a spell in a Democratic House office and on the pre-presidential campaign of now Virginia Senator Mark Warner (where, I should disclose, as part of my past political life Conner sat about six feet away from me). In addition to her recent work at the NRSC, Harbath spent the 2004 cycle at the Republican National Committee, directing GOP.com.

Even with the addition of Harbath, Facebook still maintains a smaller Washington operation than you might expect; the DC Facebook team can be counted on two hands with fingers to spare. The east coast outpost of Facebook is scheduled to move this spring from its Dupont Circle offices to a space near the Metro Center stop.

People like Conner, Twitter's Adam Sharp (collectively, 'the Adams,') and, soon, Harbath, occupy a fairly unique space in Washington. Despite their corporate rootings, they're not lobbyists. With campaigns, politicians, government entities, and advocacy groups coming to rely upon privately-owned platforms like Facebook and Twitter, those companies are finding value in having savvy staff to walk -- sometimes by the hand -- those potential users through how to make the most of their platforms. But the pay off, at least in part, that with every added political engagement, wall post, or even hosted chat (like today's Facebook DC Q&A session with two State Department staffers), communication channels like Facebook and Twitter get an ever bigger portion of the political conversation routed across their thresholds.

If you're an especially loyal techPres reader, Harbath's name might look especially familiar. We ran a piece by her back in November on the increasing political importance of mobile.