SEC targeted to control political spending


WatchdogsThe perception that the Federal Elections Commission is too ideologically hamstrung to do much about campaign spending has led some watchdog groups to press their case at the Federal Communications Commission. And they are also working the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The idea is that corporations that spend money on elections or issues are doing so on the tab of their investors, and that therefore the investors are entitled to full disclosure of all expenditures. And of course, if the investors know, everybody knows.

Common Cause is the public watchdog pressing the SEC.

CC President Miles Rapaport is using the accumulation of a million public comments favoring corporate disclosure of political spending to spur the SEC to action.

Rapaport stated, “The unprecedented volume and range of support for this proposal demonstrates its importance to shareholders, potential shareholders, and the general public. The Securities and Exchange Commission should respond to the investor and public mandate by requiring corporations to disclose their use of corporate resources for political activities. Investors have a right to know whether corporate leaders are acting consistently with their business plans and publicly-stated values. Disclosure of political expenditures also can expose legal, regulatory and business risks not otherwise apparent to investors. Finally, disclosure serves the public interest; voters have a right to know the people and corporations to whom our elected officials are beholden.”

Rapaport concluded, “The SEC has the authority and the responsibility to protect investors and the public interest. Today’s record-breaking 1 million comments demand that it act.”

RBR-TVBR observation: There have been many attempts to undo or alleviate the effect of the Supreme Court Citizens United ruling. There will be many more. They are all likely to fail.

And even if some organization ultimately succeeds in upending Citizens United, the forces that fervently wish to inject their cash into the political process will find some other way.