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Facebook parent company Meta has been ordered to pay $10.5 million in legal fees to Washington state atop a nearly $25 million fine for repeated and intentional violations of campaign finance disclosure laws.

King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North issued the legal-fee order Friday, two days after he hit the social media giant with what is believed to be the largest campaign finance fine in U.S. history, The Seattle Times reported.

North ordered the company to pay by wire transfer, check 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, passed by voters in 1972 and later strengthened by the Legislature. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that the maximum was appropriate considering his office previously sued Facebook in 2018 for violating the same law.

Meta, based in Menlo Park, California, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, the newspaper reported.

The company previously said it was assessing its options with respect to the ruling.

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. Television stations and newspapers have complied with the law for decades.

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.” While Facebook does keep an archive of political ads that run on the platform, the archive does not disclose all the information required under Washington’s law.

In 2018, following Ferguson’s first lawsuit, Facebook agreed to pay $238,000 and committed to transparency in campaign finance and political advertising. It subsequently said it would stop selling political ads in the state rather than comply with the requirements.

Nevertheless, the company continued selling political ads, and Ferguson sued again in 2020.

Meta, one of the world’s wealthiest companies, reported quarterly earnings Wednesday of $4.4 billion, or $1.64 per share, on revenue of nearly $28 billion, in the three month period that ended Sept. 30.


A Washington city’s dress code ordinance saying bikini baristas must cover their bodies at work has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.

The decision in a partial summary judgment this week comes after a lengthy legal battle between bikini baristas and the city of Everett over the rights of workers to wear what they want, the Everett Herald reported. Everett is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Seattle.

U.S. District Court in Seattle found Everett’s dress code ordinance violated the Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. and Washington state constitutions. The Court found that the ordinance was, at least in part, shaped by a gender-based discriminatory purpose, according to a 19-page ruling signed by U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez.

It is difficult to imagine, the court wrote, how the ordinance would be equally applied to men and women in practice because it prohibits clothing “typically worn by women rather than men,” including midriff and scoop-back shirts, as well as bikinis.

Bikini baristas were “clearly” a target of the ordinance, the court also ruled, adding that the profession is comprised of a workforce that is almost entirely women.

In 2017, the city enacted its dress code ordinance, requiring all employees, owners and operators of “quick service facilities” to wear clothing that covers the upper and lower body. The ordinance listed coffee stands, fast food restaurants, delis, food trucks and coffee shops as examples of quick service businesses.

The owner of Everett bikini barista stand Hillbilly Hotties and some employees filed a legal complaint challenging the constitutionality of the dress code ordinance. They also challenged the city’s lewd conduct ordinance, but the court dismissed all the baristas’ claims but the dress code question.

The court directed the city of Everett to meet with the plaintiffs within 14 days to discuss next steps.


A Wisconsin appeals court is refusing to block a lower court’s ruling banning the practice known as ballot spoiling, which allows voters who already submitted an absentee ballot to void it and vote again.

The 2nd District Court of Appeals decided Thursday against hearing an appeal of a Waukesha County circuit court judge’s ruling this month in favor of a conservative group founded by prominent Republicans. The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission scheduled an emergency meeting for Friday afternoon to react to the ruling, which comes less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 election.

Wisconsin voters have been submitting absentee ballots by mail for weeks and in person since Monday. As of Friday, more than 490,000 ballots had been cast either by mail or in person, according to the elections commission.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson are both on the ballot in tight races. Johnson’s race could determine which party has majority control of the Senate and the next governor will be in position to either enact or reject bills passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature heading into the 2024 presidential election.

The appeals court on Oct. 10 agreed to put the lower court’s ruling on hold while it decided whether to hear the appeal from the elections commission, the Democratic National Committee and Rise, Inc., a group that works to get college students to vote.


Lawmakers in the border state of Tamaulipas voted Wednesday night to legalize same-sex marriages, becoming the last of Mexico’s 32 states to authorize such unions.

The measure to amend the state’s Civil Code passed with 23 votes in favor, 12 against and two abstentions, setting off cheers of “Yes, we can!” from supporters of the change.

The session took place as groups both for and against the measure chanted and shouted from the balcony, and legislators eventually moved to another room to finish their debate and vote.

The president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, Arturo Zaldívar, welcomed the vote. “The whole country shines with a huge rainbow. Live the dignity and rights of all people. Love is love,” he said on Twitter.

A day earlier, lawmakers in the southern state of Guerrero approved similar legislation allowing same-sex marriages.

In 2015, the Supreme Court declared state laws preventing same-sex marriage unconstitutional, but some states took several years to adopt laws conforming with the ruling.


Three men accused of supporting a plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor were convicted of all charges Wednesday, a triumph for state prosecutors after months of mixed results in the main case in federal court.

Joe Morrison, his father-in-law Pete Musico, and Paul Bellar were found guilty of providing “material support” for a terrorist act as members of a paramilitary group, the Wolverine Watchmen.

They held gun drills in rural Jackson County with a leader of the scheme, Adam Fox, who was disgusted with Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other officials in 2020 and said he wanted to kidnap her.

Jurors read and heard violent, anti-government screeds as well as support for the “boogaloo,” a civil war that might be triggered by a shocking abduction. Prosecutors said COVID-19 restrictions ordered by Whitmer turned out to be fruit to recruit more people to the Watchmen.

“The facts drip out slowly,” state Assistant Attorney General Bill Rollstin told jurors in Jackson, Michigan, “and you begin to see — wow — there were things that happened that people knew about. ... When you see how close Adam Fox got to the governor, you can see how a very bad event was thwarted.”

Morrison, 28, Musico, 44, and Bellar, 24, were also convicted of a gun crime and membership in a gang. Prosecutors said the Wolverine Watchmen was a criminal enterprise.

Morrison, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, and Musico were emotional as they watched the verdicts by video away from the courtroom. Judge Thomas Wilson ordered all three to jail while they await sentencing on Dec. 15.


Two former German soldiers were convicted Monday of trying to form a mercenary group to intervene in Yemen’s civil war. They were found guilty of attempting to form a terrorist organization.

The Stuttgart state court said the two men, aged 61 and 53, were given suspended sentences of 18 months and 14 months. It didn’t release their names.

The two men decided in April 2021 to set up a paramilitary unit of 100 to 150 people, predominantly current and former German soldiers, the court found. They aimed for the group to take control of an area held by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, forcing peace talks between them and Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

The court said the defendants were influenced by “ideas colored by Christian fundamentalism” and by the predictions of a Turkish fortune-teller, as well as by a desire to make money. The court said one defendant tried to contact Saudi officials to obtain financial and military help, while the other tried to recruit former and current soldiers.

Although they succeeded neither in attracting a big investor nor in getting anyone to join their unit, they stuck to their plans until they were arrested a year ago, the court said. Their trial opened in June and, in August, they were released on bail after 10 months in custody.


A federal appeals court late Friday issued an administrative stay temporarily blocking President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel billions of dollars in federal student loans, throwing the program into limbo just days after people began applying for loan forgiveness.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued the stay while it considers a motion from six Republican-led states to block the program. The stay ordered the Biden administration not to act on the program while it considers the appeal.

It’s unclear what the decision means for the 22 million borrowers who already applied for the relief. The Biden administration had promised not to clear any debt before Oct. 23 as it battled the legal challenges, but the soonest it was expected to begin erasing debt was mid-November.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre encouraged borrowers to continue to apply for the relief, saying the court’s temporary order did not prevent applications or the review of applications.

“We will continue to move full speed ahead in our preparations in compliance with this order,” she said in a statement. “And, the Administration will continue to fight Republican officials suing to block our efforts to provide relief to working families.”

The crucial question now is whether the issue will be resolved before Jan. 1, when payments on federal student loans are expected to restart after being paused during the pandemic. Millions of Americans were expected to get their debt canceled entirely under Biden’s plan, but they now face uncertainty about whether they will need to start making payments in January.

Biden has said his previous extension of the payment pause would be the final one, but economists worry that many Americans may not have regained financial footing after the upheaval of the pandemic. If borrowers who were expecting debt cancellation are asked to make payments in January, there’s fear that many could fall behind on the bills and default on their loans.

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