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January 31, 2011
Anniversary of Citizens United Commemorated with Shareowner Resolutions
    by Robert Kropp

Requests by NYC Pension Funds for improved disclosure of corporate political spending join resolutions filed by ICCR members, and letters to companies on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce.


January 21st marked the first anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, a decision described by Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida as "the worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott case."

"If we do nothing, then before long, there won't be Senators from Oklahoma or Virginia, there will be Senators from Citibank and Walmart," Grayson said.

On the anniversary of the decision, New York City Comptroller John Liu and the NYC Pension Funds called on six companies to disclose their political contributions.

According to a press release, the companiesóCharles Schwab, Coventry Health Care, DTE Energy, Regions Financial, Sprint Nextel Corp, and WellCare Health Planówere asked to "provide detailed accounts of their direct and indirect contributions to candidates, political parties, ballot referendums and other political activities twice a year."

Since the decision one year ago, which effectively opened the floodgates of corporate spending to influence the political process, sustainable investors have taken the lead in pressuring corporations to adopt responsible policies addressing political spending.

Following the decision, the
Center for Political Accountability (CPA), along with the Council of Institutional Investors (CII) and 50 institutional investors and shareowner advocacy groups sent letters to 427 companies listed on the S&P 500, asking them to disclose all political contributions made with corporate funds and provide board oversight of corporate political donations.

At present, 76 large public companies, including half of the companies in the S&P 100 Index, have agreed to disclose their political spending and provide board oversight of the practice. In addition, according to a
press release by CPA, a majority of mainstream mutual funds either supported or abstained from voting on shareowner resolutions addressing disclosure of corporate political spending.

In addition to the resolutions filed by NYC Pension Funds, at least 25 resolutions that address corporate political spending have been filed in the 2011 proxy season by members of the
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).

Furthermore, a coalition of investors led by
Walden Asset Management and Domini Social Investments have sent letters to 35 companies on the Board of the US Chamber of Commerce, pointing out "the significant risks posed by misalignment between company and Chamber policy objectives as well as the Chamber's aggressively partisan role in electoral politics," according to a press release published today.

 

 
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