Common Cause, Students Press Sallie Mae to Disclose All Lobbying

Written by Elisa Lerner on June 25, 2014

Common Cause and other public interest groups called on student loan giant Sallie Mae today to make detailed financial disclosures of its lobbying activity.

At Sallie Mae’s annual shareholders meeting in Newark, DE., Common Cause’s Marilyn Carpinteyro told company leaders that shareholders “need to be able to asses if a membership in and lobbying with trade associations accurately represents our corporate interests and policy positions.” She urged shareholders to adopt a resolution committing the company to disclose the details of its lobbying. 

Although Sallie Mae’s website asserts that the company exists to help “students and their families save, play, and pay for college,” the firm has fought since it went public in 2011 to keep the cost of post-secondary education in the US rising.  Disclosure advocates contend that this lobbying negatively impacts the student borrowers Sallie Mae professes to protect and deprives shareholders of essential information about its activities.

As this Investopedia article points out, the more information a company shares, the more certain investors can be about how their money is spent.  And when companies are transparent, they’re more attractive to new investors.

Sallie Mae’s student borrowers also have an important interest in transparency. To make smart decisions about how to fund their education, they need information about the company that will be holding their loans.

The extent of Sallie Mae’s lobbying should be easily accessible. Openness is no threat to the company and its resistance to increased transparency raises questions about what it might be hiding.    Why should a publicly traded company suppress information about its attempts to influence public policy? The answer is simple; it shouldn’t.

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Money in Politics

Tags: Exposing Corporate Power

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