ALBANY -- Criticizing federal inaction on Russian interference in U.S. elections, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democrat-led Assembly said Wednesday they plan to try to pass a law in New York that would require social-media companies to disclose who paid for their ads.
The measure is set to pass the Assembly on Wednesday, but faced an uncertain fate in the Republican-led Senate.
Cuomo, a potential presidential candidate in 2020 who is seeking re-election in the fall, said New York should act because the Republican-controlled Congress has not done so.
"We have a situation where citizens can rightly be distrustful of the outcome of an election," Cuomo said.
"This is no longer a plot in a cheap spy novel. Russia hacked our elections. Russia hacked state elections. Russia stole identities of American citizens with the intent of influencing elections."
The measure, sponsored by Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, D-New City, Rockland County, would require a "paid for by" statement for all political communications including "printed, digital, visual or auditory."
The goal, Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said, would be to ensure any ads posted on social media have full disclosure over who funded them.
The issue has reached new prominence in recent months as federal investigations continue into allegations that Russia interfered with the U.S. presidential elections in 2016 to aid President Donald Trump.
"The recent elections have brought to our attention the serious need to re-evaluate how we safeguard the electoral process to ensure the integrity of our democracy," Heastie said on a conference call with Cuomo.
Cuomo said Congress should be the one to act to better restrict the influence of foreign governments on social media.
But he said states can also take their own action, which could force internet companies to better monitor their sites.
"Letting the states act, frankly, is a way to achieve federal action because the social-media companies won’t be able to defend either the loss of business or the duality of the systems," Cuomo said.
"And we are poised to go forward with that now."
Whether the measure would pass the Senate is unclear. It failed in the chamber last year after it passed the Assembly in March 2017.
There was no immediate comment from Senate Republicans on the bill, but Cuomo's new support gives it added importance this year heading into budget negotiations for the fiscal year that starts April 1.
Cuomo said the bill is the latest way New York is fighting back against the federal government, such as recent efforts to work with neighboring states on gun control and fighting the federal tax law passed in December.
Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, said New York would be within its right to install new laws on social-media companies.
"States have tremendous power to protect the integrity of their elections," Waldman said on the call with Cuomo.