Steptoe partner Jim Barnette, who leads the firm’s lobbying efforts on behalf of Facebook, sat behind the social media company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg after having helped prepare him for his testimony before the US House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11.
Barnette, a Capitol Hill veteran who served four chairmen as general counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, received a big shout out at the beginning of the hearing, as described in an op-ed in The New Yorker:
Joe Barton, the committee’s vice-chairman, openly praised Zuckerberg for having hired James Barnette, the committee’s former counsel, as a lobbyist. “If he’s affiliated with Facebook, you’ve got a good one,” Barton said. “If he’s not, he’s just got a great seat.” The room broke out in laughter. Everyone knew why Barnette, who was seated immediately behind Zuckerberg, was there. His presence was an open demonstration of Facebook’s willingness to do business with Commerce and Energy’s friends and family. Two hundred thousand dollars of the eleven and a half million that Facebook spent on lobbying last year went to Barnette’s law firm, Steptoe & Johnson.
Prior to the hearing, Steptoe’s representation of Facebook was also noted in an article in Roll Call.