New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, filed shareholder proposals with eight companies requesting that they comprehensively disclose political spending, Thomas P. DiNapoli, the state comptroller and sole trustee of the $267.8 billion pension fund, announced Thursday.
“The increased polarization of our political discourse and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol show just how risky it can be for companies to fund political agendas,” Mr. DiNapoli said in a news release. “In the current climate, with our democracy itself under attack, corporations have to question whether any spending on political causes is in shareholders’ interests.”
Mr. DiNapoli has filed disclosure requests with Twitter Inc., DISH Network Corp., The Progressive Corp., Royal Caribbean Group, Las Vegas Sands Corp., Ulta Beauty Inc., VeriSign Inc., and Hanesbrands Inc.
Since the disclosure requests were filed, Mr. DiNapoli has reached an agreement with Hanesbrands, in which the company “agreed to disclose all of its political spending, including payments to trade associations and other tax-exempt organizations that could be used for electoral purposes in an annual report,” the news release said. The pension fund withdrew its Hanesbrands shareholder resolution.
The initial letter to Hanesbrands on Nov. 9 from the pension fund was typical of letters sent to other companies, seeking information about the company’s policies and procedures “with making, with corporate funds or assets, contributions and expenditures,” directly or indirectly, for political campaigns or public referendums. The proposal excludes lobbying but also seeks disclosure of payments to trade associations “or other tax-exempt groups that may be used for election-related activities,” the letter said.
Hanesbrands in a Dec. 21 letter to the pension fund provided a list of U.S.-based companies and organizations to which the company had contributed $25,000 or more. The company letter, provided to Pensions & Investments by the pension fund, said that Hanesbrands does not make payments to social welfare organizations for election purposes; does not make contributions in support or opposition to ballot initiatives; and does not make contributions or endorse candidates in federal, state and local elections or national political parties.