April 28, 2012
Dear members of the Securities and Exchange Commission:
I am writing to urge the SEC to issue a rule requiring publicly traded corporations to publicly disclose all their political spending.
The framers of the Constitution could not have imagined the role that money plays in our public life. With presidential campaigns costing billions of dollars, and every subsidiary level of government exacting its toll of those who would aspire to office, we are living in a country, not of one-man-one-vote, but one-dollar-one-vote.
This is scandalous enough, for those who preserve some idealistic views about democracy. I wish the money in politics could be rolled back, through strict limits on campaign giving and spending, or exclusively publicly financed campaigns. But that day will be long in coming. At the very least, however, the public should know who is paying for the immense apparatus of propaganda and image-adjustment that surrounds every candidate. The ordinary voter deserves to know, and those extraordinary wielders of influence who are throwing down their thousands and millions need to know that the public is watching, so that perhaps their shamelessness can be reined in.
With corporations, there is a double duty to report. Not every shareholder will approve of the political activities undertaken in the name of the firm. Both shareholders and the public must be fully informed as to how much the corporation spends 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. If we can't trust the SEC to set out some clear and equitable game rules, politics in this country is fit for the shredder.