Carbajal Fights for Increased Election Transparency in Corporate Political Spending

Despite Bipartisan Support, a Majority of Republicans Reject Amendment to Expose Secret Election Spending

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Washington, July 19, 2018 | comments

Washington, DC – Today, the House passed the FY 2019 Financial Services appropriations package, which includes language prohibiting the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from implementing any new reporting requirements regarding the disclosure of political contributions by corporations. Reps. Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and Michael Capuano (MA-07) offered an amendment to strike this damaging policy rider from the bill, but Republicans rejected the measure on a 224-190 vote.

Watch: Carbajal offers amendment allowing for SEC rulemaking on corporate political spending

“The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the floodgates by allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on election advertising and political activities, without having to disclose their expenditures,” said Carbajal. “A corporation’s goal is to make a profit, not to improve the quality of life for all Americans – and they shouldn’t have a say in our elections without their shareholders and the public knowing about it. The voices of the American people shouldn’t be drowned out by millions of dollars by secret, special interest advertising from corporations.”

“Our amendment would have simply eliminated language prohibiting the SEC from requiring corporations to disclose their political spending,” said Capuano. “This is a basic issue of transparency. Corporate shareholders and the American people have a right to know who is spending money on our elections.”

“Public Citizen applauds Representatives Carbajal and Capuano for their important amendments to restore publicly demanded political spending transparency,” said Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Public Citizen. “Our democracy dies in darkness and the public understands that. We must restore the ability of our agencies to act to require that sunlight.”

The language has been embedded in every major federal spending bill since 2016.

In May, Carbajal 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.

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.

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