Learn more about our policy experts.

Media Contacts

Angela Bradbery, Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7741
c. (202) 503-6768
abradbery@citizen.org, Twitter

Don Owens, Deputy Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7767
dowens@citizen.org

Karilyn Gower, Press Officer
w. (202) 588-7779
kgower@citizen.org

David Rosen, Press Officer, Regulatory Affairs
w. (202) 588-7742
drosen@citizen.org

Other Important Links

Press Release Database
Citizen Vox blog
Texas Vox blog
Consumer Law and Policy blog
Energy Vox blog
Eyes on Trade blog
Facebook/publiccitizen

Follow us on Twitter

 

Jan. 28, 2010

Capuano’s Shareholder Protection Act Is Excellent First Step – Let Shareholders, Not CEOs, Decide How Their Money Is Spent on Politics

Statement of Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen

 A stunning blow of a court ruling deserves a strong response. We have that in a measure introduced late Wednesday by Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) to counter last week’s U.S. Supreme Court campaign finance ruling. In a powerful rejoinder to a court decision that allows corporations to spend unlimited money on pet political causes and candidates, Capuano has introduced legislation that requires CEOs to receive shareholder approval for each and every corporate political expenditure. Public Citizen enthusiastically supports Capuano’s “Shareholder Protection Act” and applauds his initiative in working to rein in the damage the court is causing by unleashing unlimited corporate spending in politics.

 Last week, the court reversed 100 years of political tradition and ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations are “persons” under the First Amendment, entitled to spend unlimited amounts of corporate treasury funds to support or attack candidates. Never mind that corporations are not people, do not vote and were never envisioned by the Founding Fathers as “persons” under the Constitution. Five justices have taken it upon themselves to give corporations the same constitutional rights given to human beings.

 The courts have held that one of those rights is to spend unlimited amounts of your own money in politics. The problem with granting this right to corporations is that the CEOs can spend unlimited amounts of other people’s money – money from shareholders. This means money from the 401(k) retirement accounts of millions of Americans.

 Capuano’s legislation requires that these CEOs fully inform shareholders of candidates and causes to be supported or opposed, and receive shareholder approval for any political expenditure. All shareholders would get a chance to vote; board members and retirement fund managers could not simply vote secretly on their behalf.

 The Shareholder Protection Act will not solve all the problems of unlimited corporate political spending, but it could go a long way toward reducing the damage to our democracy inflicted by the court. We need other tools from the toolbox, though, including public financing of elections and, ultimately, a constitutional amendment clarifying that for-profit corporations are not entitled to the speech protections afforded under the First Amendment.

Note: On the day the Citizens United decision was announced, Public Citizen launched a petition drive for a constitutional amendment to counter the ruling. Already, more than 23,000 people have signed. See www.DontGetRolled.org for more details. In addition, Public Citizen attorney Scott Nelson was part of the legal team representing former and current lawmakers in the Citizens United case.

READ Public Citizen president Robert Weissman's statement.

###

Copyright © 2016 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.


Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation

 

You can support the fight for greater government and corporate accountability through a donation to either Public Citizen, Inc., or Public Citizen Foundation, Inc.

Public Citizen lobbies Congress and federal agencies to advance Public Citizen’s mission of advancing government and corporate accountability. When you make a contribution to Public Citizen, you become a member of Public Citizen, showing your support and entitling you to benefits such as Public Citizen News. Contributions to Public Citizen are not tax-deductible.

Public Citizen Foundation focuses on research, public education, and litigation in support of our mission. By law, the Foundation can engage in only very limited lobbying. Contributions to Public Citizen Foundation are tax-deductible.