SEATTLE – A King County Superior Court judge Wednesday issued a $24.6 million penalty against Facebook’s parent company, Meta, in Washington’s campaign finance transparency lawsuit. It is the largest campaign finance penalty anywhere in the country – ever.
Judge Douglass North ruled that Meta intentionally violated Washington law 822 times. The law requires campaign advertisers, including entities such as Meta that host political ads, to make information about Washington political ads that run on their platforms available for public inspection in a timely manner. The state asserted that Meta violated the law repeatedly since December 2018.
Meta was also ordered to reimburse the state attorney general’s costs and fees, and ordered that those attorney’s fees should also be tripled as Judge North explained “as punitive damages for Meta’s intentional violations of state law.”
That amount will be determined later. The court also ruled that Meta must pay 12 percent interest per year on the total judgement, starting form when the payments are due. By law, campaign finance penalties go to the Washington State Public Disclosure Transparency Account.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Meta showed arrogance in not only ignoring the state’s laws but in arguing in court that the laws should be declared unconstitutional.
“I urge Facebook to come to its senses, accept responsibility, apologize for its conduct and comply with the law,” Ferguson stated in a news release. “If Facebook refuses to do this, we will beat them again in court.”