Houston Chronicle: Congressman seeks probe of Facebook ‘embedding’ in San Antonio office of Trump campaign


In the widening congressional investigation into Russian meddling in American elections, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro said he believes the House Intelligence Committee should interview Facebook employees embedded last year in the San Antonio-based digital operation of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.


The issue of companies placing workers in political campaigns is relatively new, like other matters related to social media influence that emerged in the 2016 elections, said Brendan Fischer, of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington.

“If Facebook’s practice is to embed a representative with any advertiser who spends over a certain amount of money, or with any advertiser that buys a particular package, it’s not obviously impermissible for Facebook to do the same with the Trump campaign,” Fischer said.

But Fischer, like other campaign finance experts, noted gaps in Federal Election Commission rules that make it impossible to know how campaigns spend advertising dollars.

He noted, for instance, that campaigns typically disclose lump-sum payments to contractors or subcontractors, which in turn spend money on advertising.

“I think there’s certainly a lot of room for requiring greater detail on how campaigns are spending money generally, and specifically spending money on digital ads,” he said.

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