Brad Smith: Shareholders make their views known: they don’t want mandatory disclosure of political activity

by - May 02, 2013

It used to be that the standard line of the “reform” community was that corporations had to be barred from partisan political activity because they would get a huge return on their lobbying and political spending – which presumably would benefit shareholders (albeit, they would argue, at the expense of the general public). However, since the Citizens United decision in 2010 upheld the First Amendment rights of corporations to make partisan political expenditures, the “reform” community has pivoted, and now argues that corporate spending is harmful to corporations and must be regulated to protect shareholders. Unable to lawfully prevent that spending, they have sought to have the SEC mandate corporate disclosure not only of direct political spending, but of dues to trade associations and contributions to 501(c) organizations. The goal, made express by the left group Media Matters, is to use that information to organize public relations campaigns and boycotts against companies that spend money to defend their political interests.

Center for Competitive Politics

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