Posts Tagged ‘Citizens United v. FEC’

The Million-Comment-Letter Petition: The Rulemaking Petition on Disclosure of Political Spending Attracts More than 1,000,000 SEC Comment Letters

Posted by Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard Law School, and Robert J. Jackson, Jr., Columbia Law School, on Thursday September 4, 2014 at 11:00 am
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Editor’s Note: Lucian Bebchuk is Professor of Law, Economics, and Finance at Harvard Law School. Robert J. Jackson, Jr. is Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. Bebchuk and Jackson served as co-chairs of the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending, which filed a rulemaking petition requesting that the SEC require all public companies to disclose their political spending, discussed on the Forum here. Bebchuk and Jackson are also co-authors of Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending, published last year in the Georgetown Law Journal. A series of posts in which Bebchuk and Jackson respond to objections to an SEC rule requiring disclosure of corporate political spending is available here. All posts related to the SEC rulemaking petition on disclosure of political spending are available here.

In July 2011, we co-chaired a committee of ten corporate and securities law experts that petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to develop rules requiring public companies to disclose their political spending. We are delighted to announce that, as reflected in the SEC’s webpage for comments filed on our petition, the SEC has now received more than a million comment letters regarding the petition. To our knowledge, the petition has attracted far more comments than any other SEC rulemaking petition—or, indeed, than any other issue on which the Commission has accepted public comment—in the history of the SEC.

…continue reading: The Million-Comment-Letter Petition: The Rulemaking Petition on Disclosure of Political Spending Attracts More than 1,000,000 SEC Comment Letters

The Tension Between Conservative Corporate Law Theory and Citizens United

Posted by Kobi Kastiel, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Tuesday September 2, 2014 at 9:20 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post is based on a recent article forthcoming in Cornell Law Review, earlier issued as a working paper of the Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance, by Leo Strine, Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court and a Senior Fellow of the Program, and Nicholas Walter, law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and a former law clerk at Delaware Court of Chancery. The article, Conservative Collision Course?: the Tension Between Conservative Corporate Law Theory and Citizens United, is available here. Work from the Program on Corporate Governance about corporate political spending includes Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending by Lucian Bebchuk and Robert Jackson, discussed on the Forum here, and Corporate Political Speech: Who Decides? by Lucian Bebchuk and Robert Jackson, available here.

Leo Strine, Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court Review and a Senior Fellow of the Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance, and Nicholas Walter recently issued an essay with that is forthcoming in Cornell Law Review. The essay, titled Conservative Collision Course?: the Tension Between Conservative Corporate Law Theory and Citizens United, is available here.

The abstract of Chief Justice Strine’s and Walter’s essay summarizes it briefly as follows:

…continue reading: The Tension Between Conservative Corporate Law Theory and Citizens United

SEC’s Non-Decision Decision on Corporate Political Activity a Policy and Political Mistake

Posted by John Coates, Harvard Law School, on Friday December 13, 2013 at 8:51 am
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The SEC’s recent decision to take disclosure of political activities off the SEC’s agenda is a policy mistake, as it ignores the best research on the point, described below, and perpetuates a key loophole in the investor-relevant disclosure rules, allowing large companies to omit material information about the politically inflected risks they run with other people’s money. It is also a political mistake, as it repudiates the 600,000+ investors who have written to the SEC personally to ask it to adopt a rule requiring such disclosure, and will let entrenched business interests focus their lobbying solely on watering down regulation mandated under the Dodd-Frank Act and the 2012 securities law statute, rather than having also to work to influence a disclosure regime.

…continue reading: SEC’s Non-Decision Decision on Corporate Political Activity a Policy and Political Mistake

The SEC Delays its Consideration of Rules Requiring Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending

Posted by Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard Law School, and Robert J. Jackson, Jr., Columbia Law School, on Monday December 2, 2013 at 9:46 am
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Editor’s Note: Lucian Bebchuk is Professor of Law, Economics, and Finance at Harvard Law School. Robert J. Jackson, Jr. is Associate Professor of Law, Milton Handler Fellow, and Co-Director of the Millstein Center at Columbia Law School. Bebchuk and Jackson served as co-chairs of the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending, which filed a rulemaking petition requesting that the SEC require public companies to disclose their political spending, discussed on the Forum here. Bebchuk and Jackson are also co-authors of Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending, recently published in the Georgetown Law Journal. A series of posts in which Bebchuk and Jackson respond to objections to an SEC rule requiring disclosure of corporate political spending is available here.

Last week the Securities and Exchange Commission released its regulatory agenda, and this agenda no longer includes rules requiring public companies to disclose their spending on politics. The agenda now includes only overdue rules that the SEC is required to develop under Dodd-Frank and the JOBS Act. While we are disappointed by the SEC’s decision to delay its consideration of rules requiring disclosure of corporate political spending, we hope that the SEC will consider such rules as soon as it is able to devote resources to rulemaking other than that required by Dodd-Frank and the JOBS Act. The submissions to the SEC over the past two years have clearly demonstrated the compelling case and large support for requiring such disclosure.

We co-chaired a committee of ten corporate and securities law professors that filed a rulemaking petition urging the SEC to develop rules requiring public companies to disclose their spending on politics. In the two years since the petition was submitted, the SEC has received more than 600,000 comment letters on our petition—more than on any other rulemaking project in the Commission’s history. The overwhelming majority of these comments—including letters from institutional investors and Members of Congress—have been supportive of the petition. At the end of 2012, the Director of the SEC’s Division of Corporate Finance acknowledged the widespread support for the petition, and the Commission placed the rulemaking petition on its regulatory agenda for 2013.

…continue reading: The SEC Delays its Consideration of Rules Requiring Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending

Political Connectedness and Corporate Policies

Posted by R. Christopher Small, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Monday July 1, 2013 at 9:11 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Ashley Newton and Vahap Uysal, both of the Division of Finance at the University of Oklahoma.

In our paper, “The Impact of Political Connectedness on Firm Value and Corporate Policies: Evidence from Citizens United,” we examine the reasons behind a company’s decision to become politically connected and what impact such connections have on firm value and corporate policies. Political connections may enhance or harm shareholder value. However, existing insights attempting to address the impact of corporate political connectedness on shareholder value are inconclusive. In an effort to test for the existence of a causal link between political connections and changes in shareholder value, we pose our research questions in the context of a natural experiment. Specifically, we focus on an exogenous enhancement in the value implications of political connectedness that accompanied the landmark Supreme Court case, Citizens United.

…continue reading: Political Connectedness and Corporate Policies

Responding to Objections to Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending (7): Claims About the Costs of Disclosure

Posted by Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard Law School, and Robert J. Jackson, Jr., Columbia Law School, on Monday June 24, 2013 at 9:39 am
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Editor’s Note: Lucian Bebchuk is Professor of Law, Economics, and Finance at Harvard Law School. Robert J. Jackson, Jr. is Associate Professor of Law, Milton Handler Fellow, and Co-Director of the Millstein Center at Columbia Law School. Bebchuk and Jackson served as co-chairs of the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending, which filed a rulemaking petition requesting that the SEC require public companies to disclose their political spending, discussed on the Forum here. Bebchuk and Jackson are also co-authors of Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending, published in the April issue of the Georgetown Law Journal. This post is the seventh in a series of posts, based on the Shining Light article, in which Bebchuk and Jackson respond to objections to an SEC rule requiring disclosure of corporate political spending; the full series of posts is available here.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently considering a rulemaking petition urging the Commission to develop rules requiring public companies to disclose their political spending. In our first six posts in this series (collected here), we examined six objections raised by opponents of such rules and explained why these objections provide no basis for opposing rules requiring public companies to disclose their spending on politics. In this post, we consider a seventh objection: the claim that disclosure rules in this area would impose substantial costs on public companies—and that the SEC lacks the authority to develop such rules because these costs would exceed any benefits that the rules would confer upon investors.

Several opponents of the petition have argued that the SEC may not require public companies to disclose their spending on politics because the costs of such rules would exceed their benefits. For example, the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which are both significant intermediaries through which undisclosed corporate political spending is currently channeled, recently argued in letters to the SEC that the “Commission could not rationally find that the benefits of such a rule” “could outweigh the huge costs.” There is currently considerable debate over the precise weight that cost-benefit analysis should be given in the SEC rulemaking process generally. Whatever position one takes on that general issue, however, cost-benefit analysis does not preclude the SEC from adopting rules requiring public companies to disclose their spending on politics.

…continue reading: Responding to Objections to Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending (7): Claims About the Costs of Disclosure

Responding to Objections to Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending (6): The Claim that Disclosure Rules are Prohibited by the Constitution

Posted by Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard Law School, and Robert J. Jackson, Jr., Columbia Law School, on Monday June 3, 2013 at 9:53 am
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Editor’s Note: Lucian Bebchuk is Professor of Law, Economics, and Finance at Harvard Law School. Robert J. Jackson, Jr. is Associate Professor of Law, Milton Handler Fellow, and Co-Director of the Millstein Center at Columbia Law School. Bebchuk and Jackson served as co-chairs of the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending, which filed a rulemaking petition requesting that the SEC require public companies to disclose their political spending, discussed on the Forum here. Bebchuk and Jackson are also co-authors of Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending, published last month in the Georgetown Law Journal. This post is the sixth in a series of posts, based on the Shining Light article, in which Bebchuk and Jackson respond to objections to an SEC rule requiring disclosure of corporate political spending; the full series of posts is available here.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently considering a rulemaking petition that we filed along with eight other corporate and securities law professors asking the Commission to develop rules requiring that public companies disclose their spending on politics. In our first five posts in this series (collected here), we examined five objections raised by opponents of such rules and explained why these objections provide no basis for opposing rules requiring public companies to disclose their political spending. In this post, we consider a sixth objection: the claim that the Constitution prohibits the SEC from requiring companies to disclose their spending on politics.

…continue reading: Responding to Objections to Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending (6): The Claim that Disclosure Rules are Prohibited by the Constitution

The Non-Expert Agency: Using the SEC to Regulate Partisan Politics

Posted by June Rhee, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 9:15 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Bradley A. Smith, Josiah H. Blackmore II/Shirley M. Nault Designated Professor of Law position at Capital University Law School, and Allen Dickerson, Legal Director of the Center for Competitive Politics. Work from the Program on Corporate Governance about corporate political spending includes Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending by Lucian Bebchuk and Robert Jackson, discussed on the Forum here. Bebchuk and Jackson served as co-chairs of the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending, which filed a rulemaking petition requesting that the SEC require all public companies to disclose their political spending, discussed on the Forum here. Their earlier work on corporate political spending, Corporate Political Speech: Who Decides?, is discussed on the forum here, here and here.

The regulation of political speech, including the regulation of contributions and spending, is one of the most constitutionally delicate operations in which the government can engage. As the Supreme Court stated in Buckley v. Valeo, “[Political] contribution and expenditure limitations operate in an area of the most fundamental First Amendment activities. . . . [T]he First and Fourteenth Amendments guarantee ‘freedom to associate with others for the common advancement of political beliefs and ideas.’” The same is true of “compelled disclosure,” which the Court has noted “in itself[] can seriously infringe on privacy of association and belief guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

Given these important First Amendment concerns, and wary of creating the actuality or appearance of partisan advantage, Congress has entrusted interpretation and enforcement of the campaign finance laws to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). This agency is unique in a number of ways. Perhaps most fundamentally, it includes six commissioners evenly divided between the two major parties. Furthermore, having been the defendant in many of the most important First Amendment lawsuits of the past 40 years, it has considerable expertise in dealing with the intricate intersection of campaign finance regulation and constitutional liberties.

…continue reading: The Non-Expert Agency: Using the SEC to Regulate Partisan Politics

SEC Comment Letter: Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending

Posted by Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard Law School, and Robert J. Jackson, Jr., Columbia Law School, on Monday May 20, 2013 at 9:44 am
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Editor’s Note: Lucian Bebchuk is Professor of Law, Economics, and Finance at Harvard Law School. Robert J. Jackson, Jr. is Associate Professor of Law and Milton Handler Fellow at Columbia Law School. Bebchuk and Jackson served as co-chairs of the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending, which filed a rulemaking petition requesting that the SEC require all public companies to disclose their political spending, discussed on the Forum here. Bebchuk and Jackson are also co-authors of Corporate Political Speech: Who Decides? and Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending, coming out this month in the Georgetown Law Journal. This post is based on a comment letter that Bebchuk and Jackson filed with the SEC in further support of the rulemaking petition. The comment letter, available here, submitted Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending for SEC consideration and is largely based on it.

We recently submitted a comment letter in connection with a rulemaking petition, currently before the SEC, urging the development of rules to require public companies to disclose the use of corporate resources for political activities. The Petition was submitted by the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending, a group of ten corporate and securities law experts that we co-chaired. In further support of the rules advocated by the Petition, our comment letter submitted for consideration by the SEC our Article Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending, which was published recently in the Georgetown Law Journal.

The submitted Article puts forth a comprehensive, empirically-grounded case for the rules advocated in the Petition. The Article also provides a detailed response to each of the ten objections that have been raised by the Petition’s opponents, either in the comment file or elsewhere. The Article shows that none of these objections, either individually or collectively, provides a basis for opposing rules requiring public companies to disclose political spending.

The main part of our comment letter discusses and reviews the analysis in the attached article as follows:

…continue reading: SEC Comment Letter: Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending

Rulemaking Petition on Disclosure of Political Spending Attracts Support from More Than 500,000 Comment Letters Filed with the SEC

Posted by Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard Law School, and Robert J. Jackson, Jr., Columbia Law School, on Monday May 13, 2013 at 9:24 am
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Editor’s Note: Lucian Bebchuk is Professor of Law, Economics, and Finance at Harvard Law School. Robert J. Jackson, Jr. is Associate Professor of Law and Milton Handler Fellow at Columbia Law School. Bebchuk and Jackson served as co-chairs of the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending, which filed a rulemaking petition requesting that the SEC require all public companies to disclose their political spending, discussed on the Forum here. Bebchuk and Jackson are also co-authors of Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending, published last month in the Georgetown Law Journal.

In July 2011, we co-chaired a committee of ten corporate and securities law experts that petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to develop rules requiring public companies to disclose their political spending. In a post eleven months ago, we noted that the petition had attracted more than 250,000 comment letters. In this post, we report that, as reflected in the SEC’s webpage for comments filed on our petition, the SEC has now received more than half a million comment letters regarding the petition. To our knowledge, the petition has attracted more comments than any other SEC rulemaking petition—or, indeed, than any other issue on which the Commission has accepted public comment—in the history of the SEC.

As in the past, it remains the case that the overwhelming majority of comment letters filed with the SEC are supportive of the petition. In November 2012, the then-Director of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance said that the Division was “looking at the [petition] and we have 300,000 comments on it. So in light of this interest, we’re taking a look at whether to make a recommendation to the Commission.” The comment letters submitted over the last several months reinforce the strength of interest noted by the Director.

We should note that, of the filed comments, 497,024 came from individuals who expressed their views through one of fourteen common types of letters filed with the Commission. While these comments use standard form letters, each was separately submitted by individuals who presumably were interested enough in this subject to write to the SEC. Furthermore, the petition has separately attracted 3,363 distinct comment letters, and the overwhelming majority of these letters is also supportive of the petition.

…continue reading: Rulemaking Petition on Disclosure of Political Spending Attracts Support from More Than 500,000 Comment Letters Filed with the SEC

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