This campaign seeks to develop the model and move an alternative type of response to the growing problem of corporate influence in our elections. The campaign is designed to complement existing campaign finance reform efforts.
Our approach is as follows:
- Launch campaigns around shareholder resolutions at S& P 500 corporations asking companies to refrain from political spending or to disclose political spending.
- Advocate passage of the federal Shareholder Protection Act.
- Advocate passage of laws modeled after the SPA in targeted states.
- Advocate for a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would require publicly traded companies to disclose both direct and indirect political spending.
Because of the diverse nature of the coalition, many of our partners are working on different aspects of the outlined approach. While all of our organizations strongly believe in transparency and accountability, every group isn’t necessarily pursuing all of the above goals.
The Shareholder Protection Act
The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC allows corporations to spend an unlimited amount of money on elections through independent expenditures and other communications. Previously, such expenditures could only be made through registered Political Action Committees (PACs) using separately raised funds. Now, corporate CEOs can spend unlimited amounts of other people’s money in politics – money from shareholders, most of whom might not fall in line with the corporate agenda these CEOs support.
While the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are citizens for the purposes of free speech, what does that mean for the free speech rights of their shareholders? Shareholders are the ones who own the corporations, and they should accordingly have a say in how their money is spent on elections.
Anyone with a 401(k) invested in stocks or mutual funds – nearly one out of every two households today – has a stake in how the corporate money in those funds is spent. Passage of the Shareholder Protection Act would help the public hold corporations accountable for their political behavior.