Rep. Carbajal Introduces the Corporate Political Disclosure Act

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Washington, May 3, 2018 | comments

San Luis Obispo, CA – Today, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and co-author Bill Ostrander, Director of Citizen’s Congress, introduced H.R. 5670 the Corporate Political Disclosure Act of 2018. This legislation requires publicly traded corporations to disclose political expenditures through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to their shareholders and the general public.

“The Citizens United decision unfortunately opened the door for large corporations, even foreign-controlled ones, to spend unlimited amounts of money on influencing American elections,” said Rep. Carbajal. “The voices of Central Coast families and small businesses shouldn’t be drowned out by millions of dollars of secret, special interest political advertising. Unfortunately, Congress has recently prevented the SEC from requiring political disclosures for corporations and that must change. The public has a right to know how powerful, multinational corporations are spending money to influence our political process.”

Congress in recent spending bills has included language to prohibit the SEC from implementing new reporting requirements regarding the disclosure of political contributions. If passed, the Corporate Political Disclosure Act of 2018 would overturn this restriction.

In the absence of legislation or a SEC rule making on this issue, there has been a new stockholder trend compelling corporations to become more transparent about their political spending. Close to 300 of the Standard & Poor (S&P)'s 500 companies have implemented some form of disclosure of their spending on political campaigns and lobbying activities, according to the 2017 CPA-Zicklin Index. The Corporate Political Disclosure Act would create a uniform reporting requirement through the SEC.

Rep. Carbajal has co-sponsored additional legislation to reform our campaign finance system, including the DISCLOSE Act, which requires additional disclosure by super PACs and related 501(c)(4), and (c)(6) spending as well as the Government by the People Act, which takes steps toward public financing of congressional elections.

Background:

In 2010, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC ruling allowed unrestricted campaign spending by special interests in federal elections, permitting corporations to spend unlimited funds on political advertising, either directly or through third parties to influence federal elections, which ultimately led to the emergence of Super PACs.

Since Citizens United, undisclosed spending in campaigns has increased dramatically. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, special interest groups spent nearly $1.5 billion on the 2016 election. Super PAC spending nearly doubled over the same time period, going from $609 million in 2012 to $1.1 billion in 2016.

The Corporate Political Disclosure Act of 2018 aims to help fix this broken financing system. The bill has been referred to the House Committees on Financial Services.

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