Nov 15, 2017

Facebook grows its lobbying army as it faces Russia probes

Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Facebook hired the former top aide to a lawmaker investigating how Russians may have used its platform to subvert the 2016 election to lobby on its behalf last month, according to a disclosure posted last Friday.

Why it matters: Facebook is bolstering its forces in Washington amid unprecedented investigations into the power of its platform and a new bill that would create new disclosure requirements for online political ads.

The details:

  • Facebook hired Luke Albee to lobby on, among other issues, "election integrity," per the form. Albee served as chief of staff to Sen. Mark Warner, now the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee and an outspoken critic of Facebook's role in the 2016 election, from 2008 until 2015. The form says he was brought on just days before Warner grilled Facebook's top lawyer at his panel's hearing on the Russia issue. Warner is also a primary sponsor of the online ad disclosure bill.
  • It has also hired David Wade, a former top staffer for John Kerry, to work on a "congressional investigation," according to another disclosure posted on Friday. Axios first reported the company was working with Wade's firm in early October. Facebook declined to comment on both registrations.

Go deeper: Twitter also recently hired a lobbying firm to work on issues "related [to Russia's] use of social media platforms regarding the 2016 election."

Go deeper

Sanders to Putin: You won't interfere in any more elections if I'm president

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Sen. Bernie Sanders sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the debate stage Tuesday, stating, "If I'm president of the United States, trust me, you're not going to interfere in any more American elections."

The big picture: It was unveiled last week that Russia has been interfering to boost Sanders' campaigns in an apparent attempt to strengthen President Trump's bid for reelection. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that "Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States, and that's why Russia is helping [Sanders] get elected.

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to keep his momentum after winning New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates are just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday.

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