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August 2, 2013

Corporate Reform Coalition Welcomes New SEC Commissioners Kara Stein and Mike Piwowar

Commissioners Should Get to Work on Disclosure of Material Political Spending Information

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Kara Stein and Mike Piwowar made it through the final steps of Senate confirmation to take their nominated positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as the newest commissioners. The Corporate Reform Coalition, made up of more than 80 organizations, welcomes them to office and encourages them to get to work on important regulatory matters, from Dodd-Frank rulemaking to the political spending disclosure rule placed on the agenda this year.

“There has been historic, record-breaking support for the petition urging the SEC to require disclosure of corporate political spending. More than 600,000 comments from investors and ordinary citizens alike have streamed in to the agency, from those who believe the new rule is essential to stop the madness of secret corporate campaign spending. We urge Commissioners Stein and Piwowar to make this matter a priority.” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.

The petition was launched in 2011 by a bipartisan committee of leading securities law professors and made a clear and compelling case that political spending information is necessary and material for decision-making by investors.

“The members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility welcome the newest members of the SEC and look forward to working with the Commission to ensure that our nation’s investor protections are both strong and enforceable. An essential framework includes complete transparency regarding corporate political spending; thus we continue to urge the SEC to make mandatory disclosure a priority,” added Laura Berry, executive director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

“In Citizens United, when the Supreme Court allowed new corporate political spending in our elections, they assumed that it would all be transparent and subject to shareholder accountability. But though the game has changed, the old rules are in place, leaving investors at risk and the public in the dark. The SEC should move swiftly to propose their rule requiring disclosure of corporate political spending before more secret, unaccountable money floods into our elections.” said Liz Kennedy, counsel at Demos.

The sheer quantity of the petition’s public comments shows how serious the issue is to retail shareholders and the public in general, but the diversity and strength of supportive comments from major SEC stakeholders is also very telling. Comments have come to the agency from mutual funds wizard John Bogle (founder and former CEO of the Vanguard Group), U.S. Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), along with 70 other members of the House of Representatives, more than a dozen U.S. senators, five state treasurers, the Maryland State Retirement Agency, more than 200,000 CREDO activists, US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, the Sustainable Investments Institute, a large group of firms managing more than $690 billion in assets, and many others.

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