The New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) has reached an agreement with the Molson Coors Beverage Co., one of the world’s largest brewers, to comprehensively disclose its political spending, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, trustee of the Fund, announced today. In response to the agreement, the Fund withdrew its shareholder resolution with the Chicago-based company.
“For too long, investors have been left in the dark on the extent of the reach of corporate dollars in politics,” DiNapoli said. “This new level of transparency will help shareholders determine if Molson Coors is using corporate funds in ways that benefit long-term value or if it is putting the company's bottom line at risk. I commend Molson Coors for agreeing to our request.”
The company agreed to disclose all of its political spending, including payments to trade associations and other tax-exempt organizations that could be used for electoral purposes in an annual report. This brings the company in line with other major food and beverage producers including ConAgra Brands Inc. and General Mills Inc.
Previously, the 2020 CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability, which gauges companies’ transparency around political spending, gave Molson Coors a score of 11.7 out of 100, ranking it in the bottom tier of companies in the S&P 500.
During the 2021 proxy season, the Fund filed five shareholder proposals at various companies seeking a public report disclosing companies’ direct and indirect political spending. The Fund recently announced an agreement on political spending disclosure with FirstEnergy Corp. of Ohio.
Since the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling striking down certain restraints on corporate political spending, DiNapoli has made it a priority to engage the Fund's portfolio companies in disclosing their political spending. The proposals filed by the Fund ask companies to publicly report monetary and nonmonetary contributions and expenditures (direct and indirect) to participate in any campaign for or against a candidate or to influence the public with respect to an election or referendum.
NYS Common Retirement Fund’s Political Spending and Lobbying Disclosure Engagement
Since 2010, the Fund has filed over 155 shareholder proposals on political spending and 45 companies have adopted or agreed to adopt such disclosure, including Bank of America Corp., Delta Airlines and PepsiCo Inc.
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 approximately $247.7 billion as of Dec. 31, 2020. 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. It has consistently been ranked as one of the best managed and best funded plans in the nation.
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