Reporting from The American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner indicates that Alexander Niejelow is being identified in emails as the “manager of the campaign’s policy committees” on the Joe Biden campaign. If Niejelow is indeed taking a major position overseeing campaign policy, it raises significant questions about the line between Biden’s fundraising and policy teams, since Niejelow is a campaign bundler.
Bundlers are high-dollar fundraisers who raise at least $25,000 for a campaign that they support. They are also supposed to be external to the campaign’s own infrastructure. In the past, bundlers have been rewarded with positions in a president’s executive branch — Barack Obama, for instance, appointed several bundlers to plum ambassadorships.
Niejelow is an old hand from the Obama administration. He was the chief of cybersecurity for the National Security Council. Niejelow was also chief of staff to the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator — as I wrote for Washington Monthly, IP enforcement is one of the most important aspects of the executive branch to many corporations, including tech companies. In February 2016, Niejelow revolved out of government to a job running cybersecurity and public affairs (a.k.a. political influence) at MasterCard.
Kuttner notes that MasterCard’s vice chair and president for strategic growth is fellow revolving-door figure Michael Froman, “a leading candidate for Biden Treasury Secretary.” Yet it’s unclear what Niejelow’s actual job responsibilities within the Biden campaign are. Kuttner writes that he’s a “liaison for people looking to connect with the campaign,” but is Niejelow himself employed by the campaign? It’s not listed on his LinkedIn profile, at least. And which “policy committees” does he manage, exactly? As Kuttner wrote in April, Biden’s economic team bizarrely remains a mystery.
In any case, more information and clarity from Team Joe is clearly needed. A revolving door campaign bundler suddenly talking up an important-sounding job in the heart of the campaign’s policy operation would raise concerns from the very progressives heartened by Biden’s outreach to Sanders. Or, of course, the whole thing could be a misunderstanding based on some poorly-worded emails. We don’t know which it is!
It does speak to the challenge of wrapping one’s head around a campaign whose official policy staff, with few exceptions, remains unclear. Clarifying Niejelow’s job shouldn’t be too much of an ask from Biden.