Making history, breaking records

million voice mandate resizeYou would think that after yesterday’s historic majority Senate vote to overturn Citizens United, we’d be out of tremendous victories to share with you.

But we’re not finished yet.

Amid the exciting news about the constitutional amendment was a another huge victory for Public Citizen and our allies: through our leadership, more than one million people have submitted comments in support of the Securities and Exchange Commission petition calling for disclosure of corporate political spending.

One million comments is a record at the SEC — in fact, it’s a record by nearly 900,000. No rulemaking in the history of the agency has garnered such broad and tremendous support. The general public gets that undisclosed corporate money is an affront to the integrity of elections, but the diversity of support for this rule is a testament to just how common-sense it truly is. Investors, academics, state treasurers, members of Congress, small business owners, the list goes on and on, have all called on the SEC to act.

To mark this milestone, we took the fight right to the SEC’s doorstep.

Speaking before a bevy of reporters and supporters, we called on SEC Chair Mary Jo White to stand up to pressure from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its dark-money-spending cronies. The people have spoken, and we’re overwhelmingly in support of shining light on the undisclosed corporate money that’s poisoning our elections.

With one million comments in the books, the SEC’s ability to sidestep this issue is being tested, and we’re one step closer to reclaiming our democracy from Corporate America.

Check out photos and quotes of our speakers from the event below, and if you haven’t yet, be sure to submit a comment to the SEC because we really can’t have too many.

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Lisa Gilbert, Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division

“Today we are crossing a historic line. We now can officially say that more than one million comments have been submitted to the SEC in support of political spending disclosure at publicly traded companies. This is nearly 10 times the number of comments that have come in for any other rule.”

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Professor Robert Jackson, Columbia Law School, one of the initial petition filers

“The SEC is an independent agency. They’re charged with protecting investors, not politicians. If the folks in this building are to do their job they should immediately begin the rulemaking project that a million Americans are asking for.”

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Alan Butkovitz, Philadelphia City Controller

“We have two goals in getting this rule adopted. First, to address the imbalance from Citizens United and at least require some disclosure and accountability. And second, to remind corporate management that it isn’t their money. It’s other peoples’ money. It’s investors’ money.”

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Laura Berry, Executive Director, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

“Investors across the country continue to raise their voices with the clear message that political spending disclosure just makes sense. Investors understand that disclosure supports good governance and good government.”

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Amanda Ballantye, National Director, Main Street Alliance

“For the MSA and thousands of small business owners we represent around the country, this is a matter of ensuring basic good governance for the markets where we invest our profits.”

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Tim Smith, Director of ESG Shareholder Engagement, Walden Asset Management

“We believe companies need to be transparent and open about how they spending shareowners’ money, and how that money is involved in the election process.”

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Liz Kennedy, Counsel at Demos

“This rule is squarely within the authority and the responsibility of the SEC. They have clear statutory authority to regulate in the protection of not just investors, but also in the public interest, as well as to require the kind of corporate disclosure that shareholders need to make informed decisions.”

Kelly Ngo is the online advocacy organizer for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.

Photo Credit: Antonio Peronace, ApolloPolitical.com