Sunlight joined dozens of groups from across the political spectrum asking Members of Congress to support the Shareholder Protection Act, soon to be reintroduced by Representatives Capuano, Menendez, and Senator Blumenthal. The bill is an effort to shine more light on secret corporate political expenditures set loose by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case.
Importantly, the bill requires corporations to disclose on the SEC web site how much they are spending on elections and which candidates they support or oppose. It also requires that each corporate political expenditure over a certain dollar threshold be promptly disclosed to shareholders and the public. These provisions are instrumental to informing shareholders how their money is being spent to elect or defeat a candidate. As part of its comprehensive recommendations to address the Citizens United decision, Sunlight recommended electronic filing of corporate political expenditures and SEC disclosure within 48 hours.
Since Congress failed to pass a comprehensive disclosure bill after Citizens United, it is important that steps be taken to ensure as much disclosure of corporate political activities as possible. The Shareholder Protection Act is an important tool to follow the money. Sunlight also supports the soon to be introduced Lobbyist Disclosure Enhancement Act, a tool to follow the action of the lobbyists behind the corporations.
Individuals must be able to judge whether the corporations they own and the politicians they support are acting in a manner consistent with their views. This will only be possible if a comprehensive disclosure regime is enacted. The Shareholder Protection Act is a critical part of that regime.