September 7, 2012
The SEC should require that corporations publicly report all expenditures used either directly or indirectly in support of political goals incorporating language that is based on the interpretation of what an informed citizen would hold to be political.
It is obvious that elected politicians directly influence the environment in which corporations function. Lobbying by corporations of already elected officials is indistinguishable from corporate funding of candidates. Both have the singular purpose of influencing the decisions made by elected officials.
Individuals and corporations both have legitimate interests in acting legally in their own self interest.
Corporate officers are required to periodically report information describing the past, current and projected performance of the corporation to their shareholders. They are also required to promptly report material threats to the corporation. This information is required for shareholders to properly value their investment.
As Justice Kennedy wrote it is only with knowledge of the political expenditures by corporate officers that "Shareholders can determine whether their corporation's political speech advances the corporation's interest in making profits…"
It is irrefutable that officers of some corporations are directing significant corporate funds in support of political goals while refusing to disclose these expenditures to either their own shareholders or to the public at large.
This is permissible under current rules but violates the plain language intent of the Citizens United decision.
The SEC must issue rules to require that all corporations promptly publicly report expenditures for political purposes (as broadly defined). For the SEC to stand by with full knowledge that some corporations are flaunting the clear language and intent of the Supreme Court when it is within the SEC mandate to correct this abuse is indefensible.
Robert Kopelman, M.D.