Shareholders Need a Voice in Political Spending

April 25, 2013

The Shareholder Protection Act was reintroduced in Congress today as a response to the dramatic increase of secret corporate spending in elections. The bill seeks to require shareholder authorization of corporate political expenditures.

This kind of transparency could change the role of corporate money in politics after Citizens United. Current laws contain no corporate governance procedures to ensure that shareholders are informed of, or have the right to approve, decisions to spend corporate funds on election campaigns. A broad coalition of 38 organizations sent a letter to Congress urging members to support the Shareholder Protection Act.

“Shareholders who actually own a company should have a say in how their money is spent,” said Ian Vandewalker, counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “This bill would provide the transparency these citizens need to make informed investment decisions. Political spending involves risk to a firm's bottom line, and shareholders deserve to be armed with information about this significant, and increasingly large, category of corporate spending.”

To schedule an interview, please contact Erik Opsal at 646-292-8356 or erik.opsal@nyu.edu.