The SEC's proposal for shareholder access to corporate proxy ballots to nominate directors "is stalled but I think not dead," Harvey J. Goldschmid, departing SEC commissioner, said today at the Council of Institutional Investors' conference in Washington. "I've remained hopeful the commission will act on the proposal before I leave this summer." He called the access proposal "the single most significant way to improve corporate governance in the United States" and called the delay on a decision "a triumph of the worst instincts of CEOs." Mr. Goldschmid, whose term has ended, expects to leave as one of five SEC commissioners by the end of August to return to Columbia University as a professor of law.
Separately, John C. Bogle, founder and former chairman of Vanguard Group, criticized corporate pension funds and institutional money managers for not supporting proxy access. "It's high time the private sector joined their public and union counterparts" in supporting proxy access.
Also at the conference, Meredith Miller, assistant treasurer of policy with the $20.2 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, Hartford, expressed concern that legislators in Connecticut and other states would soon require public pension funds to divest holdings of companies with any connection with Sudan because of the Darfur genocide. She asked Cecilia Blye, director of the SEC office of global security risk, to send letters to state legislators warning that divestiture of companies with any connection would impose great costs to pension funds.