Common Cause Applauds SEC Step Toward Corporate Political Spending Disclosure

Common Cause commends the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for publicly indicating that it plans to move forward and create a rule to require all publicly traded corporations to disclose their political spending. The agency’s decision comes in the wake of months of pressure on the SEC by Common Cause and coalition partners to require greater transparency of corporate political spending made urgent by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

“We’re pleased to be one step closer to ending the days when public corporations can secretly give to political campaigns without accountability to the public or their shareholders,” said Bob Edgar, President of Common Cause.

The Citizens United decision in early 2010 allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of shareholder money on political campaigns without disclosing the spending in anyway. In some cases, the long term financial interests of a corporation can be put at risk by that spending.

Since a bipartisan panel of law professors filed a petition with the SEC in August 2011 requesting the agency to require political spending disclosure, Common Cause has pressed the SEC to move forward with this rulemaking. Common Cause generated over 24,000 comments from its membership in favor the rule, contributing to the record breaking number of comments that the SEC received. In addition, Common Cause organized a letter signed by business leaders and investors to support the rule and commissioned research to review the long term impact of political spending on firm value. The research showed that over the long term political spending does not increase shareholder value and may put the corporation’s brand at risk.

“We’re proud to be among the leaders of this effort,” said Edgar. “We recognize there’s a long road ahead to a final new law around transparent corporate political spending, but we’re gratified the SEC is taking steps to pull back the veil of darkness around corporate money in politics.”