First of the spring proxy votes again show little shareholder interest in corporate political disclosure

April 27, 2013   •  By Brad Smith   •  ,
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Note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly claimed that Walden Asset Management had submitted a proposal at Praxair, and that they encouraged shareholders to decrease exposure in companies considering their proposals. Walden has never submitted a proposal at Praxiar. The post has been corrected to read Northstar Asset Management.

Partisan political hacks and partisan “independent” groups made up of partisan Democrats keep insisting that shareholders want public disclosure of all corporate political activity, but they keep losing proxy votes by overwhelming margins when shareholders actually vote.

The first votes of the spring proxy season on corporate political activity disclosure have gone down to resounding defeat. Last week, at American Electric Power, just 11.1 percent of shareholders voted for the measure; at Praxair, it was just four percent. The Praxair proposal was submitted by *NorthStar Asset Management, a left wing “social investment” fund that was exposed by CCP in our 2011 report on activist investors. We note that *NorthStar has at times actually encouraged its shareholders to decrease their exposure in companies considering *NorthStar proposals, suggesting they don’t really believe their own proposals will increase shareholder value. The AEP proposal was submitted by 3 unidentified shareholders – we suspect the usual crowd. These votes follow a vote at E-Bay the previous week, which garnered just 23.9 percent support, and a March vote at the oh-so-socially correct Starbucks, which received the support of just 3.8 percent of shareholders.

With corporate shareholders stubbornly refusing to unilaterally surrender in conflicts over public policy, expect these denizens of “shareholder interests” to try to muscle their political disarmament proposals through federal agencies on a partisan basis, and to intimidate interests through investigations and threats of criminal prosecutions. It’s going to be a hot summer, and political speech will be under relentless partisan attack.

For more info on the effort by partisan political activists to use proxy proposals to silence political speech they don’t like, see our new website at

*This post originally misidentified NorthStar Asset Management as Walden Asset Management, another social investment fund that has introduced several such proposals. We regret and apologize for the error.

Brad Smith

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