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.