April 7, 2016
Vote on SEC Nominees Postponed as Schumer, Menendez, Merkley and Warren Record ‘No Votes’ – Highlighting the Call for Strong Support of Corporate Spending Disclosure Rule
Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division
Note: Today, members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs postponed votes on a block of banking nominees based on concerns about the two U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) nominees.
During a March 15 confirmation hearing, Hester Peirce, a Republican, and Lisa Fairfax, a Democrat, fielded sharp questions on corporate political spending. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), began his questions by saying, “a giant hole was ripped in our democracy by Citizens United. It has had a corrosive effect on our country. The SEC has a role to play.” Also during that hearing, U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) spent the bulk of their time discussing the need for a rule requiring publicly held corporations to disclose political spending. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) raised the issue as well, with Warren highlighting the obvious conflict between the nominees’ stated support of the SEC’s mandate – investor protection – and whether either of them would eventually choose to ignore the 1.2 million investors that have supported and requested this rule.
The message to the SEC nominees is loud and clear: For the sake of a functioning corporate democracy, the SEC must issue a rule requiring disclosure of corporate political spending.
As they move through the process, Peirce and Fairfax will continue to hear from banking committee senators that SEC commissioners should protect investors and make political disclosure a priority. Today, U.S. Sens. Schumer, Menendez, Merkley and Warren all opposed the nominees based on the need for stronger responses on this issue.
We urge the banking committee Democrats to continue to question both Peirce and Fairfax on the critical need for this rule and to make it an issue throughout the confirmation process.
Public Citizen expects the nominees to do the right thing if and when they become SEC commissioners.