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Jeff Chiu / AP

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has retained the Benenson Strategy Group, run by Joel Benenson, a top staffer on Hillary Clinton's last presidential campaign. The hiring comes after speculation that Mark Zuckerberg could seek public office.

"Any work done with BSG will be focused on CZI's efforts around science, education, and other policy areas," said a source with knowledge of the situation, which was first reported by Politico. "It is not political in nature."

Our thought bubble: There are reasons why CZI would want to have access to public opinion polling. It is making donations and investments on contentious topics like the future of education, criminal justice and housing. But although Zuckerberg has said he isn't running for office, he and his wife, doctor Priscilla Chan, are only stoking those rumors by hiring a man who boasts in the first sentence of his official bio of being "the only Democratic pollster in history to have played a leading role in three winning presidential campaigns."

The bigger picture: Zuckerberg and Chan are baking political advocacy into their high profile philanthropy. Several of CZI's top communications staffers are veterans of Democratic politics. And its payroll includes David Plouffe, who masterminded Barack Obama's first run, and Sara El-Amine, the former chief of Obama's outside organizing group.

"As a philanthropic organization focused on a number of substantive issues including science, education, housing and criminal justice reform, any research efforts we undertake would be in support of that work," a spokesperson for CZI told Axios. Benenson's firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

Biden to sign voting rights order to mark "Bloody Sunday" anniversary

President Biden will sign an executive order today, on the 56th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," meant to promote voting rights, according to an administration official.

Why it matters: The executive order comes as Democrats face an uphill battle to pass a sweeping election bill meant, in part, to combat a growing number of proposals introduced by Republicans at the state level that would restrict voter access.

Updated 5 hours ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Pope Francis waving as he arrives near the ruins of the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception (al-Tahira-l-Kubra), in the old city of Iraq's northern Mosul on March 7. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting areas of northern Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."