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After Lehane’s Exit, Airbnb Taps Another Ex-White House Press Secretary to Head Public Policy

2 months ago

Airbnb announced Friday that it selected Jay Carney, most recently head of corporate affairs at Amazon and a former White House press secretary with ties to President Joe Biden, to replace Chris Lehane as global head of policy and communications.

Jay Carney
Jay Carney (center) at the White House May 20, 2011. Flickr.com shorturl.at/gsX19 Silartinitaly

Lehane, known for his hardball tactics in running campaigns opposing tougher municipal and state regulation of Airbnb, left Airbnb months ago, and joined a crypto fund. Lehane has many political jobs on his resume, including serving as press secretary for then-Vice President Al Gore from 1994-2000.

Carney has ties to President Joe Biden, having served as his director of communications when Biden was vice president. A former journalist, Carney was White House press secretary under Obama from 2011-2014.

Carney, who will begin his role at Airbnb in September, will be part of Airbnb’s executive team and will “work with co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky to ensure that as Airbnb grows, we strengthen the communities we are in.”

In a statement, Chesky said Carney is adept at community engagement “and is committed to ensuring that Airbnb is a force for good.”

Airbnb’s impact on communities can be multifaceted. On the one hand, it generates revenue for local businesses, including hosts, and makes travel affordable for many who otherwise wouldn’t be able to vacation in such fashion.

On the regulatory front, Airbnb faces an outcry in many communities around the world that it is hurting the quality of life, and contributing to a housing crisis as long-term rental properties get taken off the market, and turned into short-term rentals for tourists.

“The potential for travel to promote economic and social good has never been greater,” Carney said of his Airbnb appointment in a statement. “I’m thrilled to be joining Airbnb to help guide its work to connect communities and people through travel, drive economic participation, and help us discover that while our differences are real, they are overwhelmed by our similarities.”

Carney is a board member of Urban Institute, which Airbnb said works on issues such as affordable housing, racism and healthcare matters.

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