Assembly Passes Campaign Disclosure Bill

Assembly Passes Campaign Disclosure Bill

Assembly Passes Campaign Disclosure Bill
June 12, 2014

Candidates for public office in New York may have to start disclosing who is paying for anonymous campaign mailers and other messaging, at least if the state Senate follows the Assembly’s lead and the governor signs on.

The Assembly this week passed by a 130-0 vote a measure that would require candidates for public office to disclose who is paying for flyers and posters, Internet ads and other campaign materials. The measure would put New York in line with federal regulations that ban anonymous ads.

“The bill is really about transparency and fairness for the public,” said Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, the bill’s sponsor. “Certainly candidates can say whatever they want, but they shouldn’t be able to deceive the public. It turns them off to the entire process.”

Zebrowski said that in his hometown in Rockland, anonymous ads were sent out in local races and nobody took credit for them. A City & State op-ed last fall put the issue in the spotlight, citing a negative robocall from state Sen. Daniel Squadron’s campaign for New York City public advocate and attack ads in the New York City Council race between Assemblyman Micah Kellner and Ben Kallos.

Carol Ann Rinzler, an author and activist, has been leading a grassroots effort to get the bill passed, recruiting elected officials to get behind the legislation and building a coalition to support it.

“There probably is not a single person in the Assembly or the Senate who has not run into the kind of disgusting products that I would like to get rid of,” Rinzler said.

A companion bill has been introduced by state Sen. Joe Griffo, although it is unclear if it will come up for a vote before the end of session next week. Zebrowski said that Griffo had told him in recent weeks that he is pushing for its passage, but there was no guarantee that it would make it to the floor.

Jon Lentz
is City & State’s editor-in-chief.