New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced that five major companies in the New York State Common Retirement Fund's portfolio have adopted the Fund's request to disclose their political spending. As a result, the Fund withdrew its corresponding shareholder proposals filed with Eastman Chemical, Marathon Oil and Valero Energy. Two other companies, Dean Foods and H&R Block, recently adopted disclosure of their corporate political spending after the Fund's proposal won support from voting shareholders at their annual meetings last year.
"Since the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Citizens United was handed down five years ago, we've worked to convince our portfolio companies and fellow shareholders that it's in their own interest to let daylight shine on corporate political spending," DiNapoli said. "The companies that have agreed to our request deserve commendation. Without disclosure, shareholders have no way of knowing whether a company's political spending best serves the company's own bottom line and long-term value."
DiNapoli's disclosure proposals asked the companies to report their spending on candidates, political parties, ballot measures, any direct or indirect state and federal lobbying, grassroots lobbying communications, payments to any trade associations used for political purposes, and payments made to any organization that writes and endorses model legislation.
The Fund has filed the proposal at 11 other portfolio companies: Aetna Inc., Delta Air Lines, Express Scripts Holding Co., NextEra Energy Inc., Nisource Inc., Raytheon Company, The Travelers Companies Inc., United States Steel Corp., Waste Management Inc., Western Union Co. and Wynn Resorts.
DiNapoli has made disclosure of political spending a top shareholder priority. Since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case, which struck down prohibitions on independent corporate spending for political advocacy, the Fund has filed resolutions with 52 portfolio companies asking that they disclose corporate political spending. To date, the Fund has reached disclosure agreements with 26 of them.
The following companies have adopted political spending disclosure in agreement with the Fund or after a significant shareholder vote in support of the Fund's request:
CF Industries (2014 agreement followed 66% support in 2013 vote)
Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Noble Energy Inc.
Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc.
Southwest Airlines Co.
The Kroger Co.
Reynolds American Inc.
R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company
Marriott International Inc.
Yum! Brands Inc.
About the New York State Common Retirement Fund
The $176.8 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third largest public pension fund in the United States. The Fund holds and invests the assets of the New York State and Local Retirement System on behalf of more than one million state and local government employees and retirees and their beneficiaries. The Fund has a diversified portfolio of public and private equities, fixed income, real estate and alternative instruments.