Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was the beneficiary of at least one of the Russian-bought political ads on Facebook that federal government officials suspect were intended to influence the 2016 election. Other advertisements paid for by shadowy Russian buyers criticized Hillary Clinton and promoted Donald Trump. Some backed Bernie Sanders and his platform even after his presidential campaign had ended, according to a person with knowledge of the ads. The pro-Stein ad came late in the political campaign and pushed her candidacy for president, this person said. “Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein,” the ad reads. “Trust me. It’s not a wasted vote. … The only way to take our country back is to stop voting for the corporations and banks that own us. #GrowaSpineVoteJillStein.”
The ads show a complicated effort that didn’t necessarily hew to promoting Trump and bashing Clinton. Instead, they show a desire to create divisions while sometimes praising Trump, Sanders and Stein. A number of the ads seemed to question Clinton’s authenticity and tout some of the liberal criticisms of her candidacy.
There is no indication Stein, Sanders or Trump was aware of the advertisements, which were described to POLITICO by people with knowledge of them.
Facebook declined to comment on the specifics of the advertisements but noted a previous statement: “The vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn’t specifically reference the U.S. presidential election or voting for a particular candidate. Rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”