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NYS Comptroller



From the Office of the New York State Comptroller

Thomas P. DiNapoli

February 13, 2019, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli Presses Companies on Political Disclosure

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund), today announced that the Fund has reached an agreement with Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. to fully disclose its political spending and has filed shareholder proposals seeking the same disclosure from eight more of the Fund’s portfolio companies, including Duke Energy Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd. The remaining proposals request information regarding both direct and indirect political spending and are expected to be the subject of shareholder votes at the companies’ annual meetings this spring.

“Investors have the right to know if companies are using corporate funds to influence the political process and whether they’re doing so to promote the companies’ best interests, or if they’re serving an unrelated interest,” DiNapoli said. “Lack of transparency and accountability when it comes to political spending may put companies’ reputations and profits at risk and can threaten long-term shareholder value.”

The resolution filed with Hilton was withdrawn.

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 urging disclosure of 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.

According to the report “Collision Course” authored by the Center for Political Accountability, citing data gathered by the Center for Responsive Politics, on political action committee (PAC) spending, companies are the “dominant source of political money.” PAC activity, though only one type of political money, provides a valuable indicator of the amount of influence applied by companies and other groups. Between the 2008 and 2018 federal election cycles, business PACs accounted for between 68.6 percent ($310 million in 2009-10) and 72.8 percent ($379 million in 2013-14) of all PAC spending in federal elections.

To date, shareholder proposals for the 2019 proxy season have been filed with:

  • Wynn Resorts Ltd. (proposal received support from 37 percent of shareholders in 2018)
  • NextEra Energy Inc. (proposal received support from 43 percent of shareholders in 2018)
  • CMS Energy Corp. (proposal received support from 45 percent of shareholders in 2018)
  • Duke Energy Corp.
  • Simon Property Group Inc.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
  • The Kroger Co.
  • Sysco Corp.

NYS Common Retirement Fund’s Political Spending and Lobbying Disclosure Engagement
Since 2010, the Fund has filed over 140 shareholder proposals on political spending and lobbying disclosures, and 39 companies have adopted or agreed to adopt such disclosure, including Bank of America Corp., Delta Airlines and PepsiCo Inc.

During the 2018 proxy season, the Fund filed 16 shareholder proposals seeking verification of companies’ direct and indirect political spending and disclosure of lobbying expenditures, including contributions to independent committees, and the portion of trade association dues used for political purposes. The Fund reached agreements with Mattel to disclose its political spending and with Textron and Bank of America to disclose lobbying spending. Of those proposals that went to a vote, the Fund’s proposals received an average of 32 percent support from shareholders.

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 $207.4 billion in assets under management as of March 31, 2018. 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.

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