Cuomo wants disclosure for internet campaign ads

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assemblyman James Skoufis haven’t always seen eye to eye, but both support imposing new campaign disclosure rules to stop the sort of anonymous potshots that can now be taken with impunity through paid ads on social media platforms.

Skoufis, a Woodbury Democrat who was targeted by paid ads making false claims against him on Facebook and Instagram, is sponsoring a bill by Sen. Todd Kaminsky of Long Island that would require all paid “political communications,” including internet ads, to include a “paid for by” line that identifies the source. The smear ads against Skoufis – he said last June he had counted about 35 separate ads over 18 months – each gave the name of a fictitious group as the sponsor.

“Whether it’s national elections or our own Assembly races, anonymous, unaccountable advertising is permeating America’s democracy,” he said in an announcement of the bill last month. “These ads, which usually distort the truth to deceive the public, need to be identified so voters know where dishonest ads are coming from and what their motive is.”

Fast forward to Cuomo’s State of the State speech last week. The Democratic governor, who already had revealed that internet disclosure rules were on his 2018 agenda, had this to say: “Social media must disclose who or what pays for political advertising because sunlight is still the best disinfectant. Disclosure must apply to social media the same way that it applies to a newspaper ad or a TV ad or a radio ad. Anything else is a scam and a perversion of the law and an affront to democracy.”

Cuomo, contemplating a presidential run in 2020, interlaced his remarks with lines about lawmakers in Washington dithering over similar rules while Russia and anonymous donors “jeopardize our democracy.”


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    Chris McKenna

    Chris McKenna covers Orange County government and politics for the Times Herald-Record. He has been a reporter at the newspaper since 1999. Read Full
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