Corporate Governance Federal

House committee takes up shareholder regulations

The House Financial Services Committee is considering a bill to restrict the political speech of companies in an attempt to subvert the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The shareholder regulation bill, H.R. 4790, would amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require an authorization of a majority of shareholders before a public company may make political expenditures. A manager’s amendment, which was not publicly available before today’s hearing, was introduced to make “corrections” to the bill, said Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.), the bill’s sponsor.

“Instead of empowering shareholders, this bill would thwart the ability of companies to engage in political spending to further the economic interests of shareholders,” said Center for Competitive Politics Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former Federal Election Commission Chairman. “Restricting political decisions to one vote a year would obliterate the First Amendment right of shareholders to advocate for policies that affect legitimate business interests.”

Rather than advancing a less restrictive proposal to allow a majority of shareholders to affirmatively decide to abstain from political spending, this proposal would force all companies to wade through a cumbersome layer of regulation simply to speak out on issues and candidates that may impact their bottom lines.

“This bill addresses a nonexistent problem by unconstitutionally curbing the speech of business groups,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “For decades, Congress has placed similar campaign finance regulations on business and unions. This law would depart from that standard and only restrict corporations.”

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CCP officials to testify at House panels Wednesday

Center for Competitive Politics officials will testify at two House hearings Wednesday examining the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

CCP president Sean Parnell will testify at Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee (Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties) hearing. CCP board member Allison Hayward, a professor of law at George Mason University, will testify at Wednesday’s House Administration Committee hearing. Hayward and CCP vice president and co-founder Steve Hoersting testified at Tuesday’s Senate Rules Committee hearing.

Filed Under: Corporate Governance, Corporate Governance Federal, Corporate Governance Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Press Releases, External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases

Citizens United and corporate governance

Former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer has an interesting, if occasionally hyperbolic and certainly ideologically-driven, article over at Slate today. In what is something of a follow-on to his September article urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Austin decision in its forthcoming Citizens United ruling, Spitzer takes after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and urges state comptrollers and treasurers in charge of public pensions to try to reign in the political activities of the Chamber.

Writes Spitzer: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce…has been wrong on virtually every major public-policy issue of the past decade: financial deregulation, tax and fiscal policy, global warming and environmental enforcement, consumer protection, health care reform …

The chamber remains an unabashed voice for the libertarian worldview that caused the most catastrophic economic meltdown since the Great Depression… It is the chamber’s right to be wrong, and its right to argue its preposterous ideas aggressively…

The problem is, the chamber is doing all this with our money…”

Filed Under: Blog, Corporate Governance, Corporate Governance Federal, Corporate Governance Press Release/In the News/Blog

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.