February 19, 2013
I am writing to urge the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a strong rule, and take vigorous enforcement action to maintain it, requiring publicly traded corporations to publicly disclose all their political spending - and to do so this year.
As you know, unprecedented amounts of money were spent in 2012 to influence the outcomes of political races in this country. Not only does this subvert the one person-one vote democracy that we the people have fought and died for, but this money came from profits that rightly belong to shareholders who have a right to know and decide on what and whom it is being spent. We should know how it was spent in 2012 now- not someday in the future.
Additionally, the SEC must act to rein in this clandestine political spending that undermines our democracy and electoral process because the SEC has a duty to protect shareholders. Regardless of political affiliation and outcome, this spending unbalances the marketplace and makes all investments more risky.
The SEC has the authority to close the loophole created by the Citizens United decision that opened the floodgates of anonymous corporate political spending. In itself a miscarriage of justice, that decision has lent itself to abuse in the corporate world by allowing the wealthiest companies to have, through oversized influence on elections, undue influence over important regulations and policies of government at all levels- stifling competition and innovation as well as creating disproportionate financial benefit for those willing to spend the most.
Furthermore, because of the strong temptation to, and whiff of, corruption that this creates, these same corporations are recklessly being exposed to greater risk of future legal action and sanctions. This too presents financial risk exposure for shareholders and should not be allowed without complete, timely public disclosure- if at all.
Indeed, why should corporations be allowed to spend money in this way at all? I urge the SEC to act now to strictly limit, and ultimately prevent, campaign contributions by corporations and their major stockholders to political candidates- particularly in the case of candidates who have already risen to positions of influence over the business interests of the corporation through their seats on committees such as banking, defense, agriculture, interstate commerce, etc. In these cases the buying of political influence is especially obvious and clearly corrupting.
Both shareholders and the public must be fully informed as to how much corporations spend on politics and which candidates are being promoted or attacked. Disclosures should be posted promptly on the SEC's web site.
Thank you for considering my comment.