Legislature passes Skoufis bill to require campaign ad disclosure

A bill carried in the Senate by James Skoufis and given final approved by that chamber this month aims to squelch anonymous campaign attacks by requiring all political ads and mailings disclose who paid for them.

Federal campaigns already are bound by that obligation, but state law previously required a “paid for by” notice only on campaign ads and mailings bought by outside groups – “independent expenditures” – that cost more than $1,000. The state extended that obligation last year from traditional campaign fare to ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram – a reform that Skoufis took up while he was an assemblyman after being attacked with false, anonymous internet ads.

The disclosure bill approved unanimously by the Assembly in March – sponsored there by Ken Zebrowski of Rockland County – and almost unanimously by the Senate this month had cleared the Assembly four times in previous years but stalled in what was then a Republican-led Senate. Only one Republican senator opposed it on June 13.

“‘Paid for by’ are three words synonymous with campaign advertising– except in New York state politics,” Skoufis, D-Woodbury, said in a statement. “Most states already have laws requiring political communications disclose the sender’s identity, as does the federal government for congressional and presidential races; it’s about time New York State also gets on board.”

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