March 6, 2012
The Securities and Exchange Commission
Dear Securities and Exchange Commission,
It is almost impossible from television news coverage to find out how people running for office relate to the various issues confronting our nation. Instead of covering the issues, elections are now treated as an upcoming sporting/gambling event with everything focusing on the odds of winning (the most recent polls) and almost nothing else. This lack of real coverage is done on purpose; the media outlets wish to receive millions in campaign advertising spending and don't want to provide real coverage for free. This is outrageous.
Furthermore, political advertising is paid for primarily by executives of large business interests who wish to see their personal concerns (and not the concerns of the rest of us) taken care of by whoever wins an election. They are essentially buying politicians through this process of buying advertising that favors (or, more likely, slanders) specific candidates.
Furthermore, this purchased advertising does not disclose where the money originally comes from; and there is no reporting requirement to make this information known to the public--even though it is overwhelmingly the most important influence in how the public votes (see lack of real coverage by broadcast news mentioned above).
Furthermore, these advertising decisions are made by corporate executives without any requirement by law to disclose the specific information about these purchases to their shareholders. They are using shareholder money in a secret and personal way for personal advantage. And this should be illegal.
And, finally, there is no legal requirement whatsoever that there be any truth at all contained within the advertising and no punishment for lieing. These executives are thereby able to make false claims about specific candidates that would be illegal if they were to do so in the advertising of the (other) products they sell.
Millions of dollars are flooding the airwaves for or against candidates, and much of that money is untraceable. Right now, a corporation could be sinking millions of dollars into a political campaign and the actual owners of the company, the shareholders, would have no idea.
Both shareholders and the public must be fully informed as to how much a corporation spends on politics and which candidates are being promoted or attacked.
I urge the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a rule requiring publicly-traded corporations to fully and completely disclose all their political spending--even if the final purchases are made through another agency, such as a super-PAC.