Nearly four months ago, Google banned political ads targeting state and local elections in Washington. Even so, judicial candidate Patrick Johnson was able to buy $300 in Google ads.
The website linked in the Google ads. Patrick Johnson Campaign Website

Last week, The Stranger reported that Google had sold more than $6,000 in political ads targeting local elections in Washington State in recent months, even though the company announced on June 7 that it would no longer sell such ads.

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The following day, one of the Washington State candidates who bought some of those Google ads, Patrick Johnson, received an e-mail from Google telling him that his "ads or keywords have been disapproved." The reason?

Johnson's ads promoting his run for Spokane County District Court judge included "content related to ballot measures and candidates for state and local elections in the state of Washington, U.S.A."

Google has not responded to questions sent last week about the more than $6,000 in reported Washington State political ad sales that violate the company's June 7 ban.

Two other Washington State candidates who were able to buy Google ads—Republican state senator Joe Fain of south King County and Republican state representative Vicki Kraft of Vancouver—have not yet provided updates on what they've heard from Google since last week.

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But Google's failure to catch these political ads raises questions about the company's ability to enforce its own rules. In Johnson's case, the ads clearly described his Spokane County candidacy and linked to his campaign website.

Back on June 7, Google said it was implementing its Washington State political ad ban because it was not prepared to comply with this state's rules on political ad transparency.

Johnson, for his part, told The Stranger: "I feel it is important for Google to honor the commitment it made with Washington State. I can allocate my advertising dollars elsewhere."

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