Shareholders Deserve To Know How Corporations Spend Their Money in Elections

July 13, 2011

Statement of the Corporate Reform Coalition

Each year, millions of Americans contribute money to political campaigns and causes that they support. However, millions more contribute to political causes without even knowing it: the shareholders of large corporations.

The Shareholder Protection Act, introduced today in both the U.S. House and Senate, is a commonsense bill that would help mitigate the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s damaging decision last year in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which gave corporations the First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections.

The legislation would guarantee that all corporate political spending is made with the knowledge and consent of a company’s shareholders. This is immensely popular legislation that would give Americans the ability to decide whether their own investments should power political causes as well as cast some light on the millions of dollars that will undoubtedly pour into the 2012 elections.

This bill is gravely needed.

In 2010, fresh off the Citizens United decision, outside groups spent $294 million to influence the results – more than four times as much as they spent in the previous midterm election. Of that total, 46 percent came from groups that did not disclose their donors. This bill will impact millions of Americans; nearly one of every two households today has a stake in how the corporate money in those funds is spent via investment. When their invested money is spent on politics, millions of Americans are stuck unknowingly contributing to political causes they may not themselves support.

The Corporate Reform Coalition applauds and thanks Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) and Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) for introducing this important legislation and we urge Congress to pass it quickly.

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Brennan Center for Justice
Center for Corporate Policy
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Citizen Advocacy Center
Citizen Works
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Coffee Party USA
Common Cause
Corporate Accountability International
Democracy 21
Democrats.com
Demos
Heartland Democracy
Michigan Campaign Finance Network
N.C. Center for Voter Education
National Consumers League
Ohio Citizen Action
People for the American Way
Public Campaign
Public Citizen
Roots Action
Strategic Counsel on Corporate Accountability—Sanford Lewis, Director
Sunlight Foundation
Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, IPS
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
USAction
WashPIRG
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
WISPIRG
Zevin Asset Management