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.