September 27, 2011
DiNapoli Request on Corporate Political Spending Disclosure Yields Results
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today that he has obtained commitments for disclosure of political spending from three Fortune 500 corporations: Marriott International, Yum Brands and Limited Brands clothing. These agreements followed a request made by DiNapoli and other members of the Council of Institutional Investors (CII) asking companies to be more transparent in how they fund political campaigning and issue advocacy. DiNapoli is addressing CII's Fall Conference today.
"There's cause for concern when corporations make it their business to finance campaigns," DiNapoli said. "As shareholders, we want to be assured that these companies aren't endangering our investments by taking positions that may not be in the best interests of shareholders. We've had various examples of campaign funding mishaps across the nation. Now we're asking corporations to do the responsible thing for their shareholders and for the public. These three companies have heeded the call."
The commitments are the first agreed to by corporations held by the $147.2 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF) in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2010 "Citizens United" decision, which greatly expanded the ability of corporations to make political contributions from corporate funds.
The newly-adopted policies mean that these companies, whose subsidiaries include Marriott Hotels, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Victoria's Secret and Henri Bendel, have agreed to report direct and indirect financial and other contributions to political campaigns and advocacy groups in addition to clarifying the approval process for political contributions. As of September 16, 2011, the Common Retirement Fund held 1,601,277 shares of Yum Brands worth $86,228,766, 873,292 shares of Limited Brands Inc. worth $35,176,201 and 938,109 shares of Marriott International Inc. worth $27,392,782.
In addition, several resolutions filed by the Comptroller on behalf of the CRF asking for transparency in corporate political spending, received strong support at the annual meetings of R.R. Donnelly and Sons (48.7%), Lorillard (45.8%), Anadarko (38.1%) and Caterpillar (34.8%).
DiNapoli has worked alongside both the Center for Political Accountability and the national Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (CAPS) to ensure that corporations are held accountable for their political spending. As a founding member of the non-partisan CAPS, DiNapoli has called for full disclosure of corporate involvement in elections in the aftermath of the "Citizens United" decision.