New York City Retirement Systems submitted shareholder proposals asking six companies to disclose political contributions and expenditures made with corporate funds to political candidates, parties, committees and similar entities. The companies are: AmSouth Bancorporation, Chevron Corp., Cinergy Corp., Southern Co., Union Pacific Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
"The six companies contributed nearly $2.4 million in soft money to political activities during 2003 and 2004. ... However, payments to trade associations used for political activities is largely unknown," according to a news release from William C. Thompson Jr., New York City comptroller who helps oversee the $33.05 billion New York City Employees' Retirement System, the $26.73 billion New York City Teachers' Retirement System, $15.61 billion New York City Police Pension Fund, $5.29 billion New York City Fire Department Pension Fund and $1.75 billion New York City Board of Education Retirement System.
"These policies will make companies more accountable and transparent to their shareholders and the public," Mr. Thompson said in the statement. "Without these procedures in place, corporate executives will be free to use company assets for political objectives that are not necessarily shared by the entire company and its shareholders."
Chevron made $2.3 million in U.S. political contributions in 2004, said spokeswoman Camille Priselac. Information about corporate political contributions and those of the Chevron Employee Political Action committee is available to shareholders upon request and also from the Federal Election Commission, she noted.
Steve Brash, Cinergy spokesman, said: "We intend to talk with the proponents." He had no further information.
A call to AmSouth was referred to Carl Gorday, assistant general counsel, who wasn't available for comment by press time.
Terri Cohilas, Southern spokeswoman, said: "We will review it with our full board of directors prior to any response." She said no further information was available.
At Union Pacific, Kathryn Blackwell, assistant vice president, corporate communications, was unavailable.
A Wal-Mart spokesman couldn't be reached.