Institutions target lobbying disclosure, raising Trayvon Martin case

Fifty-seven pension funds and other institutional investors targeted 48 companies for shareholder proposals calling for disclosure of lobbying payments.

The proposals also raise concerns about corporate reputational risk stemming from contributions to groups creating model legislation based on the “stand your ground” law underpinning the Trayvon Martin fatal shooting case, according to a statement from the group.

The $173.2 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany; $27.1 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds, Hartford; and $1 billion American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Pension Plan, Washington, are among the institutional investors, filing the proposals at BlackRock (BLK) Inc. (BLK), Bank of America Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley (MS), Boeing Co., Exxon Mobil Corp., Google Inc., Yahoo! Inc., AT&T Inc., International Business Machines Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., along with other companies.

“Specifically, enhanced lobbying disclosure will enable shareholders to better evaluate whether a company's lobbying expenditures and actions advance the company's interests and do not present risks to company value,” according a statement from the investors group.

“These payments can create reputational risks for companies.”

The proposals also ask companies to disclose payments to tax-exempt organizations that write and endorse model legislation, such as statutes based on Florida's “stand your ground” law “that gained national attention after the tragic killing of teenager Trayvon Martin,” the statement said.