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Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

Democrats Are Pushing for Stricter Rules for Political Ad Spending

Sep 20, 2017
In The News

A group of House and Senate Democrats are calling on the U.S. government to issue new “guidance” to stop foreign advertisers from spending money on Facebook, Google and other web platforms in a bid to influence American elections…. Federal law already bars that sort of political spending, but lawmakers — including Rep. John Sarbanes and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — stress in a letter to the Federal Elections Commission that countries like Russia “have routinely deployed sophisticated tactics in making political expenditures to evade detection.” … “I have confidence the Googles and Facebooks and Twitters of the world have the capacity — they certainly have the resources — to put systems in place that can get behind these issues,” said Sarbanes, who spearheaded the missive. “[We want to] figure out: Where is the money coming from? Who’s responsible for it?” … Perhaps tellingly, Sarbanes and his allies didn’t obtain even one signature on their letter from a Republican lawmaker…. “Unfortunately, I think that there’s been sort of an edict from on high within the leadership of the Republican party that anything that involves Russia in any way, if the word even appears, somehow that then creates this entanglement with the broader Russian investigations,” Sarbanes said. “They don’t want to touch that and so they prefer their members stay away.” … But Sarbanes hopes that will change — and soon — with the 2018 congressional elections fast approaching. “We have time to get it done but that window will close very quickly,” he said.