Warner pushes for public disclosure of corporate spending in elections

mark warnerToday, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and seven of his colleagues on the Senate Banking Committee urged two newly-named nominees  for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to improve transparency in the U.S. political process by supporting a requirement for publicly-held companies to disclose their political spending to shareholders.

The letter, signed by Senate Banking Committee members Sen. Warner, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), pressed nominees Lisa Fairfax and Hester Pierce to work to put such a rule into action should they be confirmed to the SEC.

“Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, corporate political spending has gone unchecked,” the Senators wrote. “When it comes to spending on political activity, only roughly 2% of all public companies in the United States make such disclosures, and they do so voluntarily. We support a disclosure policy that requires companies to be held accountable to shareholders and brings transparency to corporate political spending.”

“As former Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said, ‘sunlight is the best of disinfectants,’” they continued. “Given how invested members of the Senate, former SEC officials, and the American public are on reforming our system, we hope that you will weigh seriously the importance of this issue when evaluating your positions as SEC Commissioner Nominees and advocate strongly that the Commission prioritize its implementation.”

The SEC has received a record one million public comments pushing for such a rule. Additionally, both Democratic and Republican former SEC Chairs have spoken out in favor of a political spending disclosure rulemaking, and have blasted the SEC’s failure to act under current Chair Mary Jo White.

Previously, Sen. Warner joined 43 Senate colleagues in a letter to Chair White that urged the SEC to make shareholder disclosure of corporate spending a top priority for the Commission.

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