The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is at a turning point for the disclosure of corporate political spending. Over the last year, a diverse coalition of groups concerned about secret spending in elections has intensified pressure for an S.E.C. rule change which would mandate disclosure of political spending by publicly-traded corporations.
Because of its refusal to stand up for transparency, the S.E.C. is facing the biggest public outcry in its history. Almost 490,000 shareholders and voters have called on the S.E.C. to act – breaking all prior records for public comments at the SEC.
Key Milestones in the SEC campaign:
– In Summer 2011, the Corporate Reform Coalition -- a diverse coalition comprised of over 75 organizations, academic centers, investment advisors, good government watchdogs, environmental groups, labor, and more -- formed an S.E.C. working group to build a campaign for a rule change at the S.E.C.
– In August 2011, a formal rule-making petition on corporate political spending was submitted to the S.E.C. by a group of ten corporate and securities law experts, under the heading of the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending (No. 4-637).
– In the weeks and months that followed, thousands of comments of support were submitted by organizations, elected officials, and corporate executives. Those that have submitted include Common Cause, Public Citizen, AFSCME, PIRG, Main Street Alliance, the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (CAPS), Vangaurd Group founder John Bogle, among others.
– In February 2012, Commissioner Luis Aguilar, one of five members of the S.E.C. announced his support of the proposed reforms on public disclosure. He remarked that the agency should act “swiftly” and this issue reflects a “core responsibility” of the SEC.
– In March 2012, CAPS lead a public demonstration outside of thethe S.E.C. to demand action. In a meeting following the rally, S.E.C. officials acknowledged the need to respond to the then 7-month old rulemaking petition.
– On May 2, 2012 the campaign broke the all-time record for public comments at the S.E.C. Also in May, CAPS and other members of the Corporate Reform Coalition met with S.E.C. Commissioners Troy Paredes and Elisse Walter. S.E.C. Chair Mary Schapiro also met with the Coalition -- her first public meeting on the proposed rulemaking.
– In August 2012, CAPS intensified the campaign yet again by launching a print ad campaign in the DC metro to raise awareness and encourage more investors and members of the public to submit comments calling the S.E.C. in support of the proposed rulemaking.
– In March 2013, CAPS members Tom DiNapoli, New York State Treasurer, and Bill de Blasio, New York City Public Advocate wrote an op-ed published in the New York Times urging SEC Chair nominee Mary Jo White to push forward with the rule making petition.
In January 2010, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that opened the floodgates for increased corporate influence in our elections. This decision, Citizens United v. FEC, rolled back long-standing restrictions on corporate spending in elections, allowing corporations, trade associations and non-profits to spend unlimited amounts of money directly on elections.
With more than $4 billion in total spending, the 2010 election was the most expensive midterm election in U.S. history. This year’s Presidential election will undoubtedly break records on election spending once again – with millions of dollars in undisclosed spending being channeled through anonymous contributions to trade associations, 501c4 organizations and eventually Super PACs.
According to research by the Sustainable Investments Institute and the IRRC Institute, voluntary corporate disclosure of political spending remains limited, with only 20 percent of S&P 500 companies reporting on how they spent shareowners’ money. In addition, SII & IRRC found that only 38 companies out of the entire S&P 500 mention independent expenditures, such as Super PAC contributions, as part of their policies on corporate political spending.
Transparency in corporate political spending is in the best interests of investors, companies and the general public, and that the Securities and Exchange Commission is the most appropriate agency to require such disclosure. With a just three votes, the S.E.C. has the power to adopt new rules to mandate disclosure of political spending by all publicly traded corporations. In February 2012, S.E.C. Commissioner Aguilar announced his support for these reforms. That’s 1 down, 2 more Commissioners to go to secure a majority vote for passage.
Nearly 490,000 Americans have already submitted comments to the S.E.C. in support of these reforms. To add your name, simply complete the form on the right side of this webpage. It's that easy.
ADVISORY: On the Heels of DISCLOSE Act, Members of Congress, Investors, Public Officials and Small Businesses Continue to Push for Transparency
Sens. Menendez, Whitehouse and Merkley Join Coalition of State Officials, Business Owner in Committing to Continue the Fight for Disclosure of Political Spending
WHAT: Press conference by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), joined by a small business owner and Executive Director Kate CoyneMcCoy representing the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (CAPS), a bipartisan group of state officials led by New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. The speakers will hammer home the point that the GOP block of the DISCLOSE Act is not the end of the road for achieving transparency in money in politics, and will stress that they will not give up on either the legislation or on other transparency remedies to deal with out-of-control political spending. Most notably, the speakers will highlight the potential role of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in mandating disclosure of corporate political spending via rulemaking. A record-breaking 300,000 public comments have been filed with the SEC calling for regulatory action.
WHEN: 11 a.m., Wednesday, July 18
WHERE: S-115, Capitol Building, First Street and East Capitol Streets, Washington, D.C.
WHO: Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
Kate Coyne-McCoy, executive director, Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (CAPS)
David Borris, small business owner, Hel’s Kitchen Catering, Northbrook, Ill.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 25, 2012
Today's decision from the Supreme Court overturning a Montana law prohibiting corporate political spending is one more tragic step in the slow march to destroy our democracy. The 5-4 decision from the grossly activist court, affirms the Citizens United decision that corporations are people and money is speech. The decision is already wreaking havoc in the current election cycle and citizens can expect nothing short of a deluge of communications from campaigns, corporations and third parties as the cycle progresses. With ongoing partisan gridlock in Congress, it is clear that the obligation to regulate corporate political spending rests with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and legislatures across the country. CAPS will continue to aggressively pursue action at the SEC and in legislative chambers across the U.S.
Public Advocate de Blasio & C.A.P.S. Director Applaud Court Ruling To Require Disclosure Of Political Spending
After a decision by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold disclosure requirements on organizations who engage in political spending, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Kate Coyne-McCoy, Executive Director of the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending, issued the following statements:
“This ruling affirms that protecting our democracy requires corporations to disclose the huge amounts of money they are pouring into our political process,” said Public Advocate de Blasio. “The SEC and the rest of our country must follow suit and build on Van Hollen v. FEC to undo the damage of Citizens United and restore transparency to our elections.”
Kate Coyne-McCoy, Executive Director of the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending, said: “Corporations will surely find ways to spend money secretly until the SEC demands full disclosure and this decision doesn’t change that. It will however create an atmosphere of uncertainty that may make corporations think twice before spending in secret.”
Advocates Meeting with SEC Chair Mary Schapiro, DEMAND action on Petition to Mandate Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending
Schapiro Grants First Meeting on Petition to Require Corporations to Disclose Political Spending
FOR PLANNING PURPOSES
WHAT: On Tuesday, May 8, 2012, a diverse, bi-partisan group of organizations and public figures – lead by the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (CAPS) – will meet with Mary Schapiro, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission to demand immediate action to confront the rise of secret corporate spending in our elections.
The meeting will be the first time Chairwoman Shapiro has met with the organizations and public leaders who have been fighting to curb the role of corporate spending in elections. New York City Public Advocate & CAPS Founder Bill de Blasio, Bob Edgar, President of Common Cause and other advocates will demand that Schapiro take immediate action on the S.E.C’s 9-month old rule making petition on corporate political disclosure. More than 178,000 people, a record breaking number, have already submitted letters to the S.E.C. in support of these crucial reforms.
WHEN: 11:30 . EST, Tuesday, May 8, 2012
WHERE: U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, 100 F Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
WHO: Bill de Blasio, New York City Public Advocate
Bob Edgar, President, Common Cause
Gary Kalman, Federal Legislative Office Director, US Public Interest Research Group
Kate CoyneMcCoy, Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending
List in Formation
VIDEO: After Rally, C.A.P.S. Presses Top S.E.C. Officials at Face to Face Meeting to Force Companies to Disclose Election Spending
Coalition determined to turn up the heat on S.E.C., amplify public pressure
March 26, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following a demonstration in front of the Securities and Exchange Commission this morning, members of the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending secured an on-the-spot meeting with top S.E.C. officials to press for new rules shedding light on corporate political spending. NYC Public Advocate and CAPS founder Bill de Blasio joined CAPS Executive Director Kate Coyne-McCoy in urging the S.E.C. to take up a rule-making petition on disclosure proposed seven months ago. At the meeting, S.E.C. officials refused to offer a timeline for action on the new rule. De Blasio and Coyne-McCoy pledged to amplify public pressure and force the Commission’s hand.
“The S.E.C. can actually do something about the fact that money is hijacking our political process. It can force publicly traded corporations to disclose their political spending—but has so far refused to use that power,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “We can’t wait months and years for action. We’ll keep coming back to the S.E.C.’s doorstep and ratcheting up pressure until the S.E.C. does its job.”
“It’s been seven months since the S.E.C. was petitioned for a rule change to require disclosure of corporate political spending, yet no action has been taken,” said Kate CoyneMcCoy, President of the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending. “Shareholders are deeply invested in this issue—it’s time for the S.E.C. to stop ignoring those voices.”
De Blasio and Coyne-McCoy met with representatives of S.E.C. Chair Mary Schapiro and Meredith Cross, Director of the S.E.C.’s Division of Corporation Finance. David Arkush of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, Bob Edgar of Common Cause, Gary Kalman of the US Public Interest Research Group also joined the meeting to press for reforms.
The advocates delivered 1,600 new letters to the S.E.C. today, bringing the total number of letters received to more than 75,000. The figure is on track to shatter previous records for public comments received by the S.E.C.
CAPS is the nation’s only bipartisan coalition comprised of elected leaders from every region in the country. Founded by Bill de Blasio in 2010, CAPS is working to curb the role of corporate spending in elections. For more information, visit: www.politicalspending.org
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