The U.S. Commerce Department has been rocked by the departure of numerous executives from its Digital Economy Board. A mass exodus occurred on Friday, that seen more than half of board members leave. Among them was Microsoft’s Brad Smith.
Then-Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker formed the Digital Economy Board last year. It was created to “provide recommendations on ways to advance economic growth and opportunity in the digital age.”
While the project is still open, it is not left a shell with more than half its members departing. It is unclear if the Digital Economy Board has a future or whether remaining board members will also leave.
A report by Politico names the following executives in the exodus:
“Those no longer participating as of today (Friday, Aug. 18) include co-chairs Zoë Baird, president and CEO of the Markle Foundation; Mitchell Baker, executive chairwoman of the tech organization Mozilla; David L. Cohen, senior vice president and chief diversity officer at Comcast; Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer; Handy CEO Oisin Hanrahan; Karen Bartleson, president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; Marta Tellado, president and CEO of Consumer Reports; James Manyika, director of the McKinsey Global Institute; Sonia Katyal, chancellor’s professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law; and Corey Thomas, president and CEO of cybersecurity firm Rapid7.”
Formed under the Obama presidency, it is believed the board has been mostly inactive since Donald Trump assumed office in January.
The departures of key executives highlight the growing political divide between private companies and Trump’s administration. Among the President’s core policy drives is to bring more jobs and economic growth to the United States.
He needs the backing of private companies, but has been at odds with industry giants over his policies and political outbursts.
Brad Smith is Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer. He is among the most public faces of the company and is outspoken on issues like workplace equality and security. Both issues are under scrutiny around the presidency. Microsoft has not said whether Trump’s actions are the reason the company left the board:
“Effective today, Brad is no longer a member of the group,” was all the company said in a press statement.