SEATTLE (AP) – Facebook parent company Meta has been ordered to pay USD10.5 million in legal fees to Washington state atop a nearly USD25-million fine for repeated and intentional violations of campaign finance disclosure laws.
King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North issued the legal-fee order on Friday, two days after he hit the social media giant with what is believed to be the largest campaign finance fine in United States history, The Seattle Times reported.
North ordered the company to pay by wire transfer, cheque or money order within 30 days. The money is to go to the state Public Disclosure Commission, which enforces campaign finance laws.
North imposed the maximum fine allowed for more than 800 violations of Washington’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that the maximum was appropriate considering his office previously sued Facebook in 2018 for violating the same law.
Washington’s transparency law requires ad sellers such as Meta to keep and make public the names and addresses of those who buy political ads, the target of such ads, how the ads were paid for and the total number of views of each ad.
Ad sellers must provide the information to anyone who requests it. But Meta has repeatedly objected to the requirements, arguing unsuccessfully in court that the law is unconstitutional because it “unduly burdens political speech” and is “virtually impossible to fully comply with”.