March 26, 2012
Groups Urge Securities and Exchange Commission to Require Disclosure of Political Spending
Publicly Traded Companies Should Have to Reveal Political Activity, Groups Say at Event
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should require publicly traded companies to disclose their political activity, Public Citizen, the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (CAPS) and other groups said at an event today held outside the SEC building.
The event highlighted the need for disclosure of corporate spending in elections in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts from their treasuries to influence elections.
In addition to rallying outside the SEC building, the groups, as participants in the Corporate Reform Coalition, also pressured the commission to act through an ambush of public comments submitted to the commission. Currently, more than 75,000 people have submitted comments to the agency.
“The message from Americans could hardly be louder or clearer,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “People who own publicly held companies have a right to know how their money is spent on politics. If corporate officers won’t disclose that information willingly, then the SEC has the responsibility to protect shareholder interests by compelling disclosure.”
Added Lisa Gilbert, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, “The sheer diversity of the comments that have flooded the SEC is simply astounding. A wide array of stakeholders – from former major mutual fund managers to current investors to academics to good government groups – have all weighed in supporting this measure. The SEC should react now and create this essential rule to protect investors.”
Also at the action, Bill de Blasio, New York City Public Advocate, held a giant clock to symbolize that time is ticking for the SEC to act. Immediately after the rally, de Blasio hopes to meet with SEC Chair Mary Schapiro to discuss the need for transparency in corporate spending and to call on all of the commissioners to provide a timeline on when they will respond to this petition. Already, one sitting commissioner, Luis Aguilar, has voiced his support for the disclosure measure.
The Supreme Court endorsed full disclosure by 8-1 in the Citizens United ruling. The SEC could and should close the disclosure gap for the publicly traded companies they oversee, the groups said.
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.