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By Yin Wilczek
May 20 — Seventy-nine philanthropic organizations May 19 urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to require companies to disclose their political spending.
In a letter to SEC Chairman Mary Jo White, the charitable foundations voiced strong support for a rulemaking petition submitted in 2011 calling for such disclosures.
Although more than 110 companies currently disclose their political spending policies and direct political payments, this disclosure should be “across the board,” the foundations said. “Such disclosure should include spending on independent expenditures, electioneering communications, and donations to outside groups for political purposes, i.e. superPACs and politically active trade associations.”
The group also asked the SEC to hold roundtable discussions on the matter. “Shareholders and the American public have a compelling interest in knowing how corporate funds are being spent in the electoral process,” they said.
The signatories include the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation and Ceres Trust.
The 2011 petition by a group of law professors has garnered more than 1.2 million comments, the overwhelming majority in support of the rulemaking.
Advocacy groups also have pressed for such disclosures.
The SEC has been sued over a similar rulemaking petition submitted by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
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The letter is available at http://op.bna.com/car.nsf/r?Open=ywik-9wprm5.
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