Make Corporations Disclose Political Donations to Shareholders

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A grassroots campaign pioneered by a loose coalition of shareholder activists, pension fund members and elected officials is calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission to impose a new rule that would force publicly traded corporations to disclose all political spending to their shareholders.

The active petition — which you can find on the Public Citizen website — has already gathered nearly 500,000 public comments, far more than any petition or rule in the agency’s history, reports The New York Times. Although “relatively few petitions” have resulted in concrete action in the SEC’s 79-year history, the Times reports that the commission staff filed a notice indicating it would consider adding the rule later this month.

Over the past decade, a growing number of corporations have voluntarily agreed to report their political spending to shareholders. By 2011, nearly 60 percent of S&P 100 companies had adopted the practice, many in response to shareholder demands. As the Committee on Disclosure of Political Spending outlined in their rulemaking petition, shareholders need specific information about corporate political spending, because without it they are unable to hold accountable “company directors and executives who use corporate resources for political speech that is inconsistent with shareholder interests.”

If you support this new rule, sign the petition or send in your own comment to the SEC.

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