Righting a Wrong - Let Shareholders, Not CEOs, Decide How Corporate Money Is Spent on Politics

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Righting a Wrong - Let Shareholders, Not CEOs, Decide How Corporate Money Is Spent on Politics

Statement of Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen

WASHINGTON - Irresponsible corporate governance has become a plague on the U.S.
economy and soon will become a plague on our political system as well.
In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme
Court unleashed unlimited corporate spending in elections, but made no
effort to ensure that those who own companies - their shareholders -
have any say over these corporate political expenditures.

Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) has reintroduced the “Shareholder
Protection Act,” a helpful legislative effort to make CEOs accountable
to shareholders when they want to spend shareholders’ money on politics.

This legislation would require CEOs to secure shareholder approval
of corporate political budgets annually and board of directors approval
of individual political expenditures. It also would require that both
shareholders and the public be fully informed as to how much the
corporation is spending on politics. These disclosures must also be
published on the Internet. The bill would be made stronger if
institutional shareholders could not vote on behalf of members or
beneficiaries without their consent, and if shareholder votes on every
political expenditure were required.

Corporate treasuries should not be playgrounds for CEOs. Responsible
corporate governance requires informed shareholders, capable of holding
management accountable and ensuring that spending decisions are made in
the best interests of the business. 
 
The bill is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday before a subcommittee
of the House Financial Services Committee. It deserves our support.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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