The Real Deal New York

Airbnb hires Clinton’s “master of disaster” to handle backlash

Chris Lehane known as longtime Cuomo, de Blasio adviser

August 27, 2015 06:00PM

From left: Chris Lehane and Bill Clinton

From left: Chris Lehane and Bill Clinton

With Airbnb facing increased criticism from landlords and lawmakers alike, the home-sharing service hired political operative Chris Lehane – a Clinton administration veteran with ties to both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio – to head its “global policy” and public affairs operations.

Known as the “master of disaster” for his handling of the Monica Lewinsky scandal and other Clinton administration crises, Lehane liaise with policymakers and lead “efforts to educate more people, organizations and stakeholders about Airbnb,” the company said Thursday.

Lehane served as a top advisor to Cuomo when he ran the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development in the late-1990s, according to the New York Post, later serving as press secretary for Al Gore during his 2000 presidential campaign. He has also been described as a longtime friend and adviser of de Blasio’s.

Airbnb has faced increased pressure over its practices in recent months, with landlords suing tenants who use the website and the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement expanding its staff and budget to crack down on illegal subletting.

A City Council bill introduced in June, meanwhile, proposed hiking fines for first-time offenders operating illegal hotels in the city to $10,000.

Airbnb was recently valued at almost $26 billion after raising $1.5 billion in a private funding round. [NYP] — Rey Mashayekhi