SEC: CLC Urges SEC to Require Shareholder Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending

CLC Staff
Apr 30, 2015
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Today, the Campaign Legal Center sent a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Mary Jo White urging the Commission to act affirmatively on the pending petition to require public companies to disclose to shareholders the use of corporate resources for political activities. 

Petition 4-637, “to Require Public Companies to Disclose to Shareholders the use of Corporate Resources for Political Activities” was submitted in 2011 and has received a record-breaking 1.2 million supportive comments.  To date, the SEC has not responded to the petition.  The letter urges the SEC, which is charged with protecting shareholders, to take up the petition and move expeditiously to require publicly held companies to disclose their political spending to their shareholders. 

The letter notes that Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Citizens United v. FEC relied on the ability of shareholders to use the “procedures of corporate democracy” to ensure that their “corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits.”  With 2016 political campaigns already well underway, the letter stresses that it is “imperative for the SEC to respond meaningfully to the new political landscape created by a series of revolutionary court decisions that have radically changed the way shareholder interests are affected by political and electioneering activities.”

“Corporations are required to reveal to all significant information of interest to shareholders, from operating results to management compensation, and where a company is placing its political bets certainly falls into that category,” said Meredith McGehee, Campaign Legal Center Policy Director.  “Corporate political activity is on the rise, whether through trade associations or ‘dark money’ groups, and shareholders deserve to know what kind of returns these investments are bringing in.”

 

To read the letter, click here.

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