Ten academics have petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission, seeking a rule on disclosure of corporate political spending.
“We differ in our views on the extent to which corporate political spending is beneficial for, or detrimental to, shareholder interests,” according to their rule-making petition to the SEC. “We all share, however, the view that information about corporate spending on politics is important to shareholders — and that the commission's rules should require this information to be disclosed.”
Disclosure is important.
Disclosure will help compel companies to justify to shareholders how political spending advances corporate performance and improves corporate valuation.
But shareholder proposals calling for disclosure of corporate political spending are gaining increased support and should be allowed to play out before the SEC gets involved.
The Center for Political Accountability, for instance, has been undertaking a campaign with some success for political spending disclosure and board oversight of such spending. It lists about 100 major companies that agreed to disclosure and provide such oversight.
Institutional Shareholder Services reports that, as of July 31, the 50 shareholder proposals calling for disclosure that came to a vote received an average 28.3% in support, up from 25% in 38 proposals for all of 2010.