April 4, 2013
CREW and other good-government groups first sounded the alarm. Then late-night comedians got in on the act by satirizing the situation. State legislatures and attorneys general have taken up the cause, and now you have a chance to fight Citizens United and anonymous corporate cash in our elections.
Each year, public corporations will send out documents outlining shareholder proposals up for proxy vote. Those concerned about the corrosive effects of money in politics should read these carefully.
“Item 6” in the material outlining Verizon’s shareholder meeting next month concerns the full disclosure of the company’s lobbying activities and communications. The proposal also calls for Verizon to disclose “membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation” – such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, aka ALEC.
Unsurprisingly, Verizon’s Board of Directors recommends that shareholder vote against this proposal. CREW urges Verizon shareholders to vote “yes.”
If you hold stock in Verizon, it is time to let your voice be heard.
In explaining their opposition to the proposal, the Verizon Board of Directors claims any additional disclosure (beyond the bare-bones requirements in place today) would provide “little or no value to shareholders.” That’s ridiculous.
As concerned investors, shareholders have the right to know how corporate treasury funds are being used to influence our votes.
In a post-Citizens United world, money in the corporate treasury can be freely spent backing federal candidates. CREW has already exposed corporations that funnel money through opaque trade associations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, to hide their efforts to influence elections, thereby thwarting accountability. Most importantly, shareholders deserve to know whether the corporations in which they invest are supporting political candidates.
If you are a Verizon shareholder, vote yes on “Item 6” and take a stand for increased transparency of lobbying and electioneering communications. If you own stock in other corporations, be on the lookout for similar shareholder proposals or, better yet, offer up your own.