Hillary Clinton's Lawyer Helped Facebook Avoid Political Ad Disclosures

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September 28, 2017

The top lawyer for Hillary Clinton's failed presidential campaign helped Facebook avoid political advertisement disclosures years prior to acting as her general counsel, according to a new report.

Facebook's ad disclosure has become a major focus of the media in recent weeks after it was revealed that Russians had bought $100,000 worth of advertisements leading up to the 2016 presidential elections.

Marc Elias, a partner at the D.C.-based Perkins Coie law firm who acted as Clinton's top campaign lawyer, was part of a legal team that represented Facebook in 2011 as they fought against adding disclosures on political ads on their platform in front of the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Elias and the team argued that because the ads were so small that such a disclosure would be impractical, CNN reports. The Federal Election Commission, which consists of three Democrats and three Republicans, split 3-3 on their vote of allowing Facebook to forego the disclaimers.

However, the split vote allowed savvy lawyers to work around the request since the FEC did not issue an opinion. Facebook went ahead and allowed political advertisements on its site without disclosures following the commission's gridlock.

Facebook's political ad disclosure has become a hot topic after it was first revealed that Russians had bought $100,000 worth of political advertisements.

Politico reported on Tuesday that the Russian-funded ads "backed" Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), and Donald Trump and that the effort "didn't necessarily hew to promoting Trump and bashing Clinton," according to sources familiar with the ads. Russians also bought a Black Lives Matter ad targeting Baltimore and Ferguson, according to CNN.

None of the campaigns appeared to have been aware of the ads.