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City Council to vote on bill banning anonymous attack ads in elections

One of the two bills would make it so all election communications have a line that identifies what campaign or candidate paid for or signed off on an ad.

A bill from Councilman Brad Lander would demand more detailed disclosures of third-party ads, handouts and robocalls to the city's Campaign Finance Board — including releasing information of top donors of groups who pay for the campaign materials and a new centralized website to track who spends what. Credit: William Alatriste/NYC Council A bill from Councilman Brad Lander would demand more detailed disclosures of third-party ads, handouts and robocalls to the city's Campaign Finance Board — including releasing information of top donors of groups who pay for the campaign materials and a new centralized website to track who spends what.
Credit: William Alatriste/NYC Council

The New York City Council will soon move on new legislation that will effectively ban anonymous attack ads in political campaigns.

One of the two bills would make it so all election communications have a line that identifies what campaign or candidate paid for or signed off on an ad.

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All ads, print or broadcast, would require something not unlike the, "this advertisement was paid for by" disclaimer already used in other positive political ads.

"If candidates and independent expenditures are required to own up to their political speech, that speech will fairly be a reflection on them," Councilman and bill sponsor Dan Garodnick said in a statement.

A second bill would demand more detailed disclosures of third-party ads, handouts and robocalls to the city's Campaign Finance Board — including releasing information of top donors of groups who pay for the campaign materials and a new centralized website to track who spends what.

In a statement, bill sponsor Councilman Brad Lander said the bill will help voters know when a candidate is behind an ad or when its third-party interest.

He said last year's election, which had an uncommonly crowded field of candidates for elected seats across the city, had particularly nasty ads.

"Many were viciously hostile, or in some cases racially divisive, something that was encouraged by the fact that they were effectively anonymous," he wrote.

Garodnick's bill for fuller disclosure already has overwhelming bipartisan support of the Council; 38 members are on board as sponsors. Meanwhile, Lander's bill expanding disclosure rules only has 12 one day before the vote.

The Council is expected to vote on both on Thursday.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria

 
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