Meta Fined $24.6M for Violating Washington Campaign Finance Disclosure Law

The fine is the maximum allowed, for more than 800 violations of the state law.

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Facebook parent company Meta was fined nearly $25 million on Wednesday by a Washington state judge for intentionally violating the state's campaign finance disclosure law.

King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North issued the maximum allowed fine of $24.6 million against the company for more than 800 violations of Washington's Fair Campaign Practices Act, a 1972 law that requires companies that run campaign ads in Washington to maintain records on the ads and make them available to the public.

A 2020 lawsuit filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson accused the company of not providing all information required by the state's campaign finance laws, including the address of the person who sponsored the ad, the precise cost and the dates of payment.

Meta tried in August to have the law declared unconstitutional, arguing it "unduly burdens political speech" and is "virtually impossible to fully comply with."

"I have one word for Facebook's conduct in this case -- arrogance," Ferguson said in a press release. "It intentionally disregarded Washington's election transparency laws. But that wasn't enough. Facebook argued in court that those laws should be declared unconstitutional. That's breathtaking. Where's the corporate responsibility?"

In 2018, Facebook paid $238,000 to settle a previous dispute with Washington state over political ads. The company later said it would stop selling many ads related to state or local elections in Washington, though ads related to "issues of national importance" were still allowed. 

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.