Menendez Statement on Push for Political Spending Disclosure

Menendez Statement on Push for Political Spending Disclosure

NEWARK, NJ - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez commented on the announcement today by investors and activists of the unprecedented support for a petition calling on the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) to move forward on a political spending disclosure rule that would require publicly traded companies to disclose political spending information to their shareholders.

Menendez is a co-sponsor of the Shareholder Protection Act, which would require companies to disclose their political campaign spending and give shareholders a vote on company political expenditures. He also led a letter signed by 17 senators to SEC Chair Mary Jo White on Jan. 9, 2014, urging the SEC to make this issue a priority and expressing concern after the SEC dropped it from its annual rulemaking agenda.

Menendez said:

"Corporate insiders should not able to use company treasuries as piggy banks to advance their personal political views, especially without any oversight from shareholders. Investors right now have no way of knowing whether executives are spending company funds on political causes or campaigns that may be directly adverse to shareholders' interests. The record number of favorable public comments - over one million and counting - shows the pressing need and deep public support.

"To those who say the SEC should leave political spending disclosure to campaign finance regulators, we need action from both. Election regulators can protect our democracy with a general disclosure requirement, and the SEC can protect investors by giving them tools to stop executives from using company funds to advance their own personal political views. Matters involving politics are likely to be of deep, material interest to an investor.

"To those who say this is a partisan or 'anti-business' proposal because it would apply to companies but not labor unions, the playing field is already heavily tilted. Labor laws require unions to disclose their political spending to members, but companies have no comparable requirement to disclose their political spending to investors. This pro-investor measure is about safeguarding company funds against misuse by insiders and strengthening accountability to shareholders, so I fail to see how requiring disclosure from companies would be in any way 'unfair' or 'anti-business.'

"It is crucial that the SEC not allow itself to be intimidated by political opposition and misinformation from those who seek to benefit from undisclosed and unchecked corporate political spending."