In January 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision called Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that opened the floodgates for increased corporate spending in elections.
- Campaigns and independent expenditure groups purchased in excess of nearly one and one half million television commercials in the 2010 midterms, more than any election in U.S. history. Much of that spending came from undisclosed sources.
- The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that an unprecedented $6 billion was spent on electoral races in 2012. Because of the current gaps in disclosure rules, though, we may never know how many millions of shareholder dollars were used to influence races at all levels of government.
- In the 2012 election, corporations were the second largest donors to Super PACs accounting for 12% of all contributions.
CAPS Milestones & Key Accomplishments:
In response to the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United v. FEC, NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio initiates campaign calling for institutional investors to demand corporate disclosure.
Protests are organized at Goldman Sachs' annual meeting to call for disclosure; negotiations begin. In July 2010, following negotiations, Goldman Sachs agrees not to spend corporate treasury money on politics.
Letters sent to S&P100 corporations to solicit and verify corporate political spending policies. Online “corporate tracker” is launched to shed light on the policies of the S&P100 corporations on the issue of political spending and urge reforms.
Following negotiations, JP Morgan Chase and Co. & Morgan Stanley announce policies against spending treasury resources directly in elections.
Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (CAPS) is formally launched with elected officials from five states. In the same month, Citigroup agrees to change its policies to renounce Citizens United spending.
Report is released on impact of the Citizens United ruling in the 2010 election cycle and covered by more than 150 media outlets across the country.
NYC Pension Funds send shareholder proposals to six companies calling for public disclosure of political contributions. NY State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli begins negotiations with Marriott International, Yum Brands and Limited Brands clothing on disclosure of political spending.
May 2011 |
Analysis is released linking top five recipients of federal corporate tax breaks to large campaign contributions during the 2010 elections. NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio calls on companies to verify that no taxpayer dollars will be used in future election spending.
Shareholders at Sprint Nextel annual meeting vote 53% percent in support of NYC Pension Funds’ proposal on political disclosure - the largest majority vote on a political disclosure proposal opposed by management in the past four years, and one of the largest majority votes ever on the issue.
CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer calls on the state’s pension funds to develop formal policies supporting shareholder initiatives to require full disclosure of political spending and oversight of such spending by companies’ boards of directors. Also in June, on the eve of Target’s annual meeting, NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Common Cause and the United Steelworkers Union call on the company to reconsider using corporate profits for political purposes.
CAPS hires its first Executive Director and joins the Corporate Reform Coalition’s Working Group on SEC rulemaking.
Following negotiations, NY State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli secures commitments for disclosure of political spending from Marriott International, Yum Brands and Limited Brands clothing.
CAPS continues to expand membership, adding its first group of Republican members. CAPS members attend Council of Institutional Investors (CII) meeting, speaking on the topic of corporate political spending and disclosure.
CAPS releases it's first Holiday Shopping Guide, shining a light on the political spending policies of brand-name retailers and other consumer-facing companies.
CAPS members call on the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission to adopt a proposed rule-change requiring all publicly-traded companies to disclose their political spending.
CAPS members send letters to the 20 least transparent companies in the S&P 100, seeking disclosure and an end to secret political spending.
CAPS members and allies met with SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro to discuss the rule-making petition that would require all publicly-traded companies to disclose their political spending and asked for a clear time-table for the reforms.
CAPS launched an advertising campaign to raise awareness of rule-making petition in the Tenelytown and Union Station DC Metro stops.
In conjunction with the DC Metro ads, CAPS organized a canvassing campaign to hand out SEC Commissioner "trading cards" outside of the Securities and Exchange Commission headquarters in DC.
CAPS held its National Summit on Corporate Political Spending in Washington, DC. Thought leaders, local elected officials and representatives from seven states, including the sole guardians of pension fund investments for New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, convened to discuss new developments in corporate political spending and the reform efforts underway.
CAPS released a report looking at the evolving role of social welfare organizations – also known as 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations – in American elections, specifically profiling spending in New York state and recommending that the State Charities Bureau would be an ideal regulator of 501(c)(4) political spending.