As many of you know, I am a strong advocate for campaign finance reform and have pushed measures over the years that would return our election system to the voters and guarantee transparency. That’s why I was not pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC last year, when they essentially declared that a corporation is a “person” and thus has the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections through independent expenditures. This decision opened the door to over $1.3 billion in corporate spending on the 2010 elections, much of which was funneled through groups that don’t disclose their donors.
The SEC has just issued what’s called a “no action letter” in a dispute between Home Depot and its shareholders. In it, the SEC told Home Depot that the corporation has to allow an advisory (non-binding) shareholder vote on corporate political expenditures. Home Depot must also publish its policies on political spending in its annual proxy statement, and include a report of the past year’s spending and next year’s anticipated amount. I’m very encouraged by the SEC’s action here because it is very similar to a bill I introduced last Congress in response to Citizens United: H.R. 4790, the Shareholder Protection Act. My bill requires an annual binding vote by shareholders to authorize a corporation’s proposed political spending, and it also mandates reporting of the past year’s expenditures. The Shareholder Protection Act was passed by the Financial Services Committee last year but never came to the full House for a vote.
Shareholders deserve a say in how their money is spent. The SEC took a very big step in the right direction with this action in the Home Depot case.
See the SEC ruling here: http://www.sec.gov/divisions/c…