May 8, 2012
Shareholder Resolution to End 3M, Bank of America’s Political Spending Shows Growing Dissatisfaction
Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Deputy Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division
It’s happening. People throughout the country are saying loud and clear that they are tired of corporations spending their money to influence elections.
Today, shareholders at 3M brought up and voted on a precedent-setting resolution that would halt political spending by the company.
Tomorrow, shareholders at Bank of America’s annual meeting will vote on a similar resolution that would halt political spending by the bank. That means no contributions to Super PACs. No involvement in the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). No pouring money into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which then buys attack ads in swing states.
That’s huge. Such calls for change are appropriate, and are growing. Resolutions addressing political spending are among the most popular in the 2012 shareholder season, with many requiring the disclosure of such spending. This groundbreaking resolution was introduced by socially responsible investment firms Trillium Asset Management at Bank of America and 3M Corporation and by Green Century Capital Management at Target Corporation, which holds its annual shareholder meeting in June. Public Citizen, as a leader in the Corporate Reform Coalition, has been organizing citizens and shareholder groups in support of these resolutions.
Here’s why it’s needed at Bank of America: Between 2002 and 2010, Bank of America contributed approximately $6.7 million in corporate money to political activity. The bank’s political action committee has been one of the top five contributors among commercial banks to federal candidates every year for the past decade, giving approximately $12.6 million. What’s more, the bank paid nothing in federal taxes in 2009 and 2010, but got almost a billion dollars back from taxpayers. (See more at http://www.citizen.org/documents/bank-of-america-political-spending-fact-sheet.pdf.)
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums to sway elections, shows why these resolutions are needed now more than ever.
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.