New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced that United States Steel Corporation has agreed to the New York State Common Retirement Fund’s request that it publicly report its corporate political spending. As a result of the agreement, the Fund withdrew a shareholder proposal it had filed for consideration at the Fortune 500 company’s annual meeting. The Fund holds approximately 907,577 shares of U. S. Steel with an estimated value of $20 million.
“In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, investors and the larger public have been left in the dark on the extent of the reach of corporate dollars in politics,” DiNapoli said.
“U. S. Steel is to be commended for agreeing to voluntarily disclose its political expenditures. Shareholders need transparency in order to determine whether corporate political spending benefits the company’s long-term value.”
"U. S. Steel is unequivocally committed to transparency at every level of corporate operations, including disclosure of political contributions," said U. S. Steel's General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Suzanne Rich Folsom. "It is just one important example of how, under the leadership of President & CEO Mario Longhi, U. S. Steel continues to aggressively expand on the commitment made when our first chairman, Judge Elbert Gary, wrote what is generally considered the first-ever code of ethical business conduct.”
“To that end, we are pleased to work with the New York State Comptroller, as well as other public officials, in order to help ensure voluntary disclosure of political contributions to shareholders," added Folsom.
Since the 2010 Citizens United ruling, DiNapoli has made it a priority to engage the Fund’s portfolio companies to disclose their political spending. The Fund’s proposal asks companies for a comprehensive and public report that lists their spending on candidates, political parties, ballot measures, any direct or indirect state and federal lobbying, payments to any trade associations used for political purposes, and payments made to any organization that writes and endorses model legislation.
The Fund’s proposal is currently pending 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., Waste Management Inc., Western Union Co., and Wynn Resorts.
The following 27 companies have adopted or agreed to adopt political spending disclosure procedures in agreements with the Fund or after a significant shareholder vote in support of the Fund’s proposal:
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 New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third largest public pension fund in the United States with assets of $176.8 billion as of March 31, 2014. 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.