Laborers Benefit Funds of Delaware, Inc.
COMMENTS ON SEC RULE ON MUTUAL FUND DISCLOSURE AS TO PROXY VOTING
The undersigned is co-counsel to the Laborers Benefit Funds of Delaware, Inc. ("Funds"). The Funds are jointly-administered, Taft-Hartley employee benefit funds which, combined, total approximately $45,000,000 in assets. The assets are invested by two different money managers in a variety of financial instruments. As a matter of Funds policy, the money managers who between them manage over $6 billion report to the Funds on each and every proxy vote they make. These votes are set forth in every periodic report sent to the Funds' trustees.
The disclosure of proxy votes by the Funds' money managers does not constitute a burden nor has either of them ever suggested that their obligation to make such reports represents a burden. Indeed, the trustees of the Funds strongly believe that the reporting of this information on a regular and periodic basis is part and parcel of any money manager's obligation to keep the trustees of the Funds informed as to the manner in which the assets of the Funds are invested. As noted in the previous paragraph, the Funds' money managers report on a quarterly basis to the trustees of the Funds as to the manner in which they have cast proxy votes. There are regular discussions by the trustees of the Funds with the Funds' money managers about the manner in which proxy votes have been cast.
The adoption of the proposed rule would assist all investors by providing them with information about the mutual funds to which they have entrusted their investments. The proposed rule would certainly permit investors to consider whether certain decisions made by mutual fund managers were made solely in the interests of the owners of those mutual funds, and would compel such managers, where apparent conflicts of interest arise with regard to investment decisions, to justify those decisions. Absent the adoption of this rule, the ever-increasing danger of conflicts of interest affecting investment decisions will continue. Thus, the adoption of the rule will not only serve investors in terms of the information available to them but will have a prophylactic effect since mutual fund managers will inevitable have to consider the impact of public disclosure of proxy votes.
The Funds therefore urge that this rule be adopted.