Feb. 8, 2019

Disclosure Legislation Would Hold Companies Accountable for Secret Political Spending

Companies Should Be Compelled to Meet Investor Demand for Disclosure

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Publicly traded U.S. corporations will have to disclose their political spending to shareholders and the public through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) if legislation introduced on Thursday by U.S. Reps. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) is passed.

The Corporate Political Disclosure Act of 2019 would build on growing stockholder trends that demand that corporations become more transparent about their political spending.

"It has been almost a decade since the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for huge corporations to wield unlimited influence over our democracy in the disastrous Citizens United decision," said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. "Political transparency is critical if we are going to take our democracy back, and requiring public corporations to be honest with their shareholders, customers and the public about political donations is a commonsense first step."

Past congresses have hampered the SEC's ability to enact rulemaking on corporate political disclosure, although the agency is free to take up a rulemaking at any time it deems necessary. Public Citizen has long urged the agency to take immediate action to protect shareholders nationwide.

"The voices of Central Coast families and small businesses shouldn't be drowned out by millions of dollars of secret, special interest political advertising," said Carbajal. "Unfortunately, Congress has recently prevented the SEC from requiring political disclosures for corporations and that must change. The public has a right to know how powerful, multinational corporations are spending money to influence our political process."

Carbajal and Lofgren's legislation would bolster the provisions in Congress' first bill of 2019, the For the People Act (H.R. 1), a sweeping democracy reform package that also seeks to reform disclosure on corporate donations and curb the influence of big money in our politics.

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