Shareholders, including the Council of Institutional Investors, launched a campaign for corporations to disclose their political contributions to ensure accountability, board oversight and value to corporate performance.
“The goal today is to start a nationwide campaign” of investors to compel corporate political spending disclosure, Bill de Blasio, New York City public advocate and a trustee of the $31 billion New York City Employees' Retirement System, said at a teleconference Feb. 4 announcing the campaign.
That is the initial goal, he said. “A further goal is to require shareholder approval” of such corporate spending, he added.
“We look forward to reaching out to pension funds all over the country to involve them in this effort.” Mr. de Blasio said.
The effort follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision Jan. 21 that relaxed legal constraints on corporate political contributions.
The CII plans to send a joint letter with the Center for Political Accountability, an advocacy group for corporate political disclosure, to 430 companies in the S&P 500 that don't report such spending, Bruce Freed, CPA president, said at the teleconference.
Ann Yerger, CII executive director, confirmed the letter would be sent, saying such disclosure and board oversight of such spending have been a long-standing CII policy. Neither Mr. Freed nor Ms. Yerger could say when it will be sent.
The CII, which was not part of the teleconference, has no position on calling for shareholder approval of corporate political contributions, Ms. Yerger said.
Maureen Thompson, acting executive director of ShareOwners.org, a web-based advocacy group, said at the teleconference that a coalition of investors and related groups — including her group, CPA and Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility — plans a three-way approach for disclosure: engaging companies through discussion and shareholder proposals, seeking SEC rule-making and congressional action.
The coalition plans to reach out to the SEC through its investor advisory committee and to Senate and House leaders asking Congress to ensure political activity by corporations doesn't erode shareholder value, Ms. Thompson said.