April 25, 2013
Today Congressman Mike Capuano (D-MA) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) reintroduced the Shareholder Protection Act which requires CEOs to seek authorization from a majority of shareholders before a corporation can spend money from its general treasury on political activities. It also requires the disclosure of these expenditures.
“The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC fundamentally re-wrote the nation’s campaign finance laws. When the court ruled that corporations should be treated as persons under the First Amendment regarding election spending, it gave corporations an outsized voice in the political process. This decision allows corporations to overshadow the voice of the voter,” stated Congressman Capuano who first filed this bill in 2010.
“Since the Supreme Court ruled in Citizen’s United that corporations are people and can spend money unlimitedly, there has been a tsunami of cash influencing our elections and undermining our democracy,” said Senator Menendez. “Enough is enough. Individual citizens should determine the outcome of our elections, not multi-billion-dollar corporate interests, or worse, a foreign government, so it’s time we pass this legislation to give shareholders a voice over how their corporate dollars are spent on elections.”
The Citizens United decision allows CEOs to spend unlimited corporate treasury funds on campaigns. One of the effects of this decision is that corporations have been able to conceal their campaign spending by funneling the money through electioneering nonprofit groups. These groups in turn buy campaign ads without disclosing the corporate donors. According to Open Secrets, more than $1 billion was spent by outside groups in the 2012 federal elections. Much of this money went through trade associations and non-profits with minimal disclosure.
The Shareholder Protection Act of 2013 would:
The Shareholder Protection Act is supported by a diverse community of investors, transparency advocates, civic groups and campaign finance reform organizations including: Brennan Center for Justice at N.Y.U. School of Law; Center for Media and Democracy; Citizen Works; CREW; Common Cause; Corporate Accountability International; Corporate Ethics International/Business Ethics Network; Free Speech for People; Friends of the Earth; Harrington Investments, Inc.; Illinois Campaign for Political Reform; Krull and Company, Peter W. Krull, President & Founder; League of Conservation Voters; National Consumers League; New Progressive Alliance; North Carolina Center for Voter Engagement; NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.; People for the American Way; Public Citizen; SEIU; Strategic Counsel on Corporate Accountability, Sanford Lewis; Sunlight Foundation; U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG); United Food and Commercial Workers; Zevin Asset Management, LLC.
The Shareholder Protection Act’s original cosponsors in the Senate are Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mark Begich (D-AK), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Original cosponsors in the House of Representatives are Reps. David Cicilline (D-RI), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), John Conyers (D-MI), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Susan Davis (D-CA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), John Larson (D-CT), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Mike Michaud (D-ME), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Jim Moran (D-VA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY).