New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, as trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund), announced today that Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and Nisource Inc. have agreed to the Fund's request that they publicly report all direct and indirect corporate political spending.
"Investors must be able to determine if political spending is consistent with enhancing a company's profitability," DiNapoli said. "I applaud Goodyear and Nisource for agreeing to voluntarily disclose their political spending and urge other companies to follow suit. Shining more light on the use of corporate resources to influence the political process leads to better understanding of how this activity can affect a company's bottom line and long-term value."
Since the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling in 2010, DiNapoli has made it a priority to engage the Fund's portfolio companies to disclose their political spending. The shareholder proposals filed by the Fund ask companies for comprehensive and public reports that list their corporate 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.
"Comptroller DiNapoli's leadership is helping to make corporate political transparency and accountability a common practice. His efforts have been central to increasing shareholder support for political disclosure resolutions" said Bruce F. Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability, an advocacy group promoting corporate political transparency and accountability.
As a result of the agreement, the Fund withdrew the shareholder proposal it had filed for consideration at Goodyear's annual stockholders' meeting, as well as with Nisource, which is one of the largest natural gas and electric utility companies in the United States.
The Fund holds 529,900 shares in Goodyear valued at $19,198,277 and 679,000 shares of Nisource with a value of $16,465,750.
Additional requests for political spending transparency went to a vote at 13 other company shareholder meetings this year and received a significant level of support. This includes: Nextra Energy Inc. (41%); CMS Energy Corp. (36.2%); Equifax Inc. (35.9%); Western Union Co. (35.1%); Wynn Resorts (29.7%); Aetna (26%); United Healthcare Group (25%); Allstate (24.9%); Eli Lilly and Co. (24.8%); Textron Inc. (23.4%); Consol Energy Inc. (21.6%); Expedia Inc. (17.8%) and the Occidential Petroleum Corp. (7.9%).
DiNapoli has taken other steps in an effort to increase the transparency of corporate political spending, including calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to enact regulations that would require corporations to disclose political spending. More than one million comments on political spending disclosure have been received by the SEC.
To date, the following 36 companies have adopted or agreed to adopt political spending disclosure procedures pursuant to an agreement with the Fund or after a significant shareholder vote in support of the Fund's proposal:
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.
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 an estimated $192.1 billion in assets under management as of March 31, 2017. 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.