U.S. Chamber’s & API’s Gross Mischaracterizations of the Law Rebutted in SEC Comments Filed by Legal Center

CLC Staff
Mar 7, 2013
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Today, the Campaign Legal Center submitted comments to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rebutting a series of gross mischaracterizations of law made by two major trade associations seeking to avoid disclosure of their donors whose money is used for political activities. In their comments to the SEC concerning a rulemaking petition filed by the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending urging the SEC to require public companies to disclose their political spending to shareholders, the United States Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute (API) offered incorrect and misleading information to the SEC, which the Legal Center debunks in its comments to the agency.

“In a desperate effort to stave off disclosing the corporations funding their increasingly sophisticated multi-million dollar political operations, the Chamber and API resorted to completely mischaracterizing pertinent laws including the Administrative Procedures Act, existing federal and state campaign finance disclosure laws, and even the constitutionality of the disclosure rule requested by the petitioners,” said Paul S. Ryan, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel. “When it comes to their claims concerning disclosure, these two organizations do not have a legal leg to stand on, which makes for a fascinating read if you are a fan of legal fiction. Again and again the U.S. Supreme Court has come down decisively and overwhelmingly in support of disclosure laws, recognizing the vital public interest in having an informed citizenry.”

The Legal Center urged the SEC to move forward with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning publicly traded company disclosure to shareholders of the use of corporate resources for political activities, noting that the Supreme Court inCitizens United explicitly highlighted the importance of shareholder disclosure. Eight of the Court’s nine members wrote in Citizens United: “With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters. Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.”

To read the comments filed with the SEC by the Campaign Legal Center, click here.

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