The exploding efforts by Democrats to regulate internet sites like Facebook, Google and the Drudge Report that accept political ads has now expanded to a call for Treasury to probe their advertisers like they do drug cartels and terrorists.
Former Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel, a leading voice in the demand for policing internet ads, said that Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network should be given the job of probing questionable political ads or disinformation.
In a National Review interview, she said:
Platforms should be required to keep what looks like misinformation or political messages on their platforms in a repository, so that investigators could look to see who's behind those messages and to determine whether or not there's illegal money that's being used in order to influence our election through political communications and propaganda.
The FEC is not equipped to do that kind of investigation, but there is an organization in the Department of Treasury—it's the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, called FinCEN, which has the mission to safeguard the financial system from illicit use and combat money laundering. … They've had some pretty substantial IT modernization efforts over the last couple of years, and so they have used IT and the internet to try to track down … drug cartels or foreign sources that are engaged in terrorism.
Legislation has been proposed in the House and Senate to make internet social and news media platforms responsible for their advertisers, a major break from the past practice of putting the burden on advertisers to follow the rules and disclose their funding.
Ravel suggested that the legislation doesn't go far enough to prevent foreign interference, like the allegations Russian sources used fake ads on Facebook to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org