Dems to Press SEC Nominees on Political Disclosure

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By Rob Tricchinelli

Oct. 21 — A day after President Barack Obama announced nominees to fill open slots on the Securities and Exchange Commission, three Senate Banking Committee Democrats indicated they would urge those nominees to push for a political-spending disclosure rule.

“Such a rule would be one of the most effective, achievable ways to shed a light on the dark money that is swallowing up our politics and is really moving America further away from a one-person, one-vote democracy,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) said Oct. 21 on a conference call with reporters.

Schumer, who is slated to become Democratic leader in the Senate after the retirement of Sen. Harry Reid (Nev.), said his first question to nominees Lisa Fairfax and Hester Peirce during their confirmation hearing would be to gauge their support of the rule. Fairfax and Peirce were announced as nominees Oct. 20.

A political disclosure rule would require public companies to report corporate spending on political activities.

‘Corrupting Influence.'

Schumer was joined on the call by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), as well as former SEC Chairman William Donaldson, a Republican.

There is an “obvious corrupting influence” in corporations spending money on political campaigns, Merkley said.

In August, 44 of the 46 senators in the Democratic caucus wrote to Chairman Mary Jo White urging adoption of a rule.

Donaldson and former chairman Arthur Levitt made a similar request in a May letter to White. Donaldson was chairman from 2003 to 2005, and Levitt, a Democrat, served in that post from 1993 to 2001. Levitt is a director of Bloomberg LP, which owns Bloomberg BNA.

Agenda

The initiative, which garnered more than 1 million supportive public comments, was dropped from the SEC's rulemaking agenda at the end of 2013 without a rule ever being proposed.

The measure is “not part of our current regulatory agenda,” White said last year. 

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Tricchinelli in Washington at rtricchinelli@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phyllis Diamond at pdiamond@bna.com