ALBANY — Several Democratic Assembly members and senators on Monday backed a bill to require online political ads to include the source of funding, something that has been required of political ads on television for decades.
“It has been subverting our democracy,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach). “People put out ads and we don’t know who they are from.”
Often the ads make inflammatory and false claims with what the Democrats called fictitious “AstroTurf” names such as “NYS Public Schools” or “People for Parks” that sound like grass-roots organizations.
“This is not a gray area of political messaging,” said Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens). “These are outright lies.”
Assemb. Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), who is facing a special election this year for a Senate seat, said Kaminsky’s bill is similar to measure supported by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in his budget. Governors have extraordinary leverage over the legislature to get policies passed as part of the spending plan.
“We need to get it done through the budget; that is the way to get it done,” Mayer said.
Senate Republican majority spokesman Scott Reif said the bill will be reviewed, but it is not supported by the majority at this time.
A Russian company purchased ads on Facebook during the 2016 presidential election. That has sparked federal investigation into Russian political operations and policy debates about requiring the identification of sponsors of such ads.