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Airbnb Hires Ex-Clinton Aide to Play Nice With Policymakers

Chris Lehane is bringing his reputation for tenacity to the apartment sharing app.
August 27, 2015, 7:43pm

Airbnb has added former Clinton administration aide Chris Lehane to its ranks as it continues to battle with regulators and works to keep its apartment sharing service legal around the world.

The company announced his arrival as the new head of global policy and public affairs in a blog post on Wednesday. His role will focus on directing policymakers and educating stakeholders "about Airbnb and the right to share your home."

Lehane has a long history in politics, and earned the title "master of disaster" for his work on the Clinton administration in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He has also served as the spokesperson for Al Gore's presidential campaign.

The hire comes as Airbnb faces ongoing backlash from regulators, including those in New York City, who say the app circumvents tax regulation as well as fire and other safety standards that hotels must comply with.

Lehane formerly worked with Airbnb as an outside consultant, most recently helping the company fight a ballot measure that would impede users' ability to rent out their homes on the app. He is replacing David Hantman, former head of government relations at Yahoo, who had been in the position since 2012.

"There was no question that he was the right person for the job," wrote Belinda Johnson, Airbnb chief business affairs and legal officer. "He's smart, strategic and tough and our community couldn't ask for a better or more effective advocate."