March 3, 2012
Attn. Elizabeth Murphy, Secretary
Securities and Exchange Commission
110 F. Street, Nothwest
Washington, D.C. 20549
From: Rev. Elaine & Mr. Lee Silverstrim
Dear Ms. Murphy:
I recently became aware of a petition sent to the SEC requesting that you require all publicly traded companies to openly disclose political contributions to candidates, PACs/SuperPACs as a condition of being permitted to trade as public companies. Since it is obvious that the 112th Congress will utterly fail the public in this regard, I would like to add my own request to such action.
My husband and I are retired. Our entire working lives, we contributed to company retirement plans, and when these became 401Ks, we contributed to those. When I left the Private sector (IT Manager with MetLife and then Emery Air Freight) and entered seminary I exercised fiscal options available to me as clergy - considered self-employed for IRS purposes. So in addition to paying the full 15% into Social Security/Medicare from very limited income, I contributed monthly to a TSA (pre-tax contributions from employers).
In other words, we did everything financial advisors recommended.
We should have been in good position to enjoy our retirement when I formally entered that state in 2008, joining my husband who retired under special provisions in 1990. Instead, the story is old. Thank you Wall Street. Fortunately, we have been able to dramatically reduce our draw from the 401K and largely get by on our two Social Security checks, plus two small pension checks I receive (Church Pension & a small annuity check from MetLife).
In order to endeavor to regrow some of the losses in our 401K, we are now more heavily invested in stocks (defensive with reasonable dividend). BUT - as we enter into a new season of Government for auction to the highest bidders, we do feel we have a right as investors and shareholders (however small our holdings) to know where some of our money is going in this open-season of unlimited, anonymous funds to buy what is left of our governance.
I want to know how much companies like P & G, A.T. % T., Verizon, Unilever, Plum Creek Lumber, ERF, Johnson & Johnson, etc. are contributing in this election cycle and to whom.
We certainly don't believe that corporations are 'people.' And if the companies where we are currently invested are plowing enormous wealth into campaigns that do not have the best interests of actual people at heart, we deserve to know, so we can remove our limited wealth from them and invest in companies that have a conscience.
Please, I urge the SEC to have the courage and integrity to do what our Congress is too ineffectual to do - at least with regard to publicly traded companies.
Fr. Elaine Silverstrim, retired Episcopal priest
Diocese of Central Pa.
Lee Silverstrim, retired Manager, P & G