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Roll Call

Facebook ‘Friends’ Another Republican

Facebook has hired another Republican, adding to its already GOP-heavy Washington, D.C., staff.

In preparation for the fall elections, the company announced today that George Alafoginis will join its election 2012 team. Alafoginis is the former deputy director for online strategy and technology deployment at the Republican National Committee.

He will focus on political advertising, joining two other campaign-focused staffers: Katie Harbath, the former chief digital strategist for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Adam Conner, a Democrat who launched Facebook’s Washington office out of his apartment in 2006.

Alafoginis doesn’t start until late next month but he’s already written his name on their wall — an actual collection of signatures from lawmakers, reporters and other Facebook friends that lines one side of the downtown office.

In the past six years, Facebook’s Washington operation has ballooned, including state, local and international policy experts and four lobbyists: Republicans Myriah Jordan, Chris Herndon and Joel Kaplan, former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, and one Democrat, Louisa Terrell.

The company lost its other Democratic lobbyist this fall and is looking for three more new Washington staffers.

Technology firms, long considered stalwart Democrats, have become increasingly bipartisan and issue-focused in their interactions with Washington. Facebook, industry lobbyists note, has led the way.

“Facebook has understood from the beginning the importance of having an effective presence in D.C.” said Dan Turrentine, vice president for government relations at TechNet, one of the industry’s largest trade associations. “They get the need to have allies in both parties; with the Executive and Legislative branches; to have both policy specialists and political operatives; to support candidates, committees, trade associations and think tanks; and to have relations with the media intelligentsia and key thought leaders.”

Facebook has high hopes for its role in campaigns on both sides of the aisle as a forum for debate, an advertising platform and as a donor through its new political action committee. The company is also on the hunt for media partners to co-host debates and other online gatherings and is aiming to put its mark on the party conventions this summer.

“Politics and governing in the United States have always been social,” said Andrew Noyes, a company spokesman. “Long before people started connecting with each other online they were meeting in town squares, coffee shops, and around water coolers to discuss important issues of the day.”

Correction: Jan. 27, 2012

An earlier version of this story misstated when Facebook announced the hiring of George Alafoginis.

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