Editor’s Note: Bruce F. Freed
is president and a founder of the Center for Political Accountability. Work from the Program on Corporate Governance about corporate political spending includes Corporate Political Speech: Who Decides?
by Lucian Bebchuk and Robert Jackson, discussed on the Forum here
. A committee of law professors co-chaired by Bebchuk and Jackson submitted a rulemaking petition to the SEC concerning corporate political spending; that petition is discussed here
Companies are once again being engaged on political sending, and preliminary results for this proxy season show strong, if not stronger, support. Coordinated by the Center for Political Accountability (CPA), the shareholder resolution focuses on disclosure of political spending from corporate funds, including payments to trade associations and 501c4 organizations; disclosure of management decision making policies; and board oversight of the spending. Through increased oversight and disclosure, shareholders proponents seek to more effectively manage and lessen the risks associated with corporate political spending especially in the post-Citizens United world. (See CPA’s website for a model resolution.)
Shareholders working with CPA have filed a total of 51 resolutions this year, 13 of which have already resulted in an agreement with the company. The New York State Pension Funds successfully engaged six companies: Safeway, Kroger, CSX Corp., Sempra Energy, R.R. Donnelley & Sons, and Reynolds American. Trillium Asset Management reached agreements with Halliburton, Chubb Corp, and State Street Corp.; individual shareholders affiliated with the Responsible Wealth Coalition successfully withdrew their resolutions with Hershey Co. and Aflac, Inc. after agreements. The Miami Firefighters worked successfully with Southwestern Energy Co., and the Nathan Cummings Foundation reached an agreement with Tenet Healthcare.
Several agreements have followed previous strong votes for political disclosure resolutions. Last year, almost 47 percent of shareholders supported the resolution at Halliburton, almost 49 percent at R.R. Donnelley, and more than 44 percent at State Street Corp.
…continue reading: 2012 Proxy Season Political Spending Shareholder Resolutions