Responding to Objections to Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending (5): The Claim that Shareholder Proposals Requesting Disclosure Do Not Receive Majority Support
The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation 2013-04-29
In our first four posts in this series (collected here), we examined four objections raised by opponents of mandating disclosure of political spending and explained why these objections provide no basis for opposing such rules. In this post, we focus on a fifth objection raised by opponents of these rules: the claim that the SEC should not require disclosure in this area because shareholder proposals requesting disclosure of corporate spending on politics generally have not received the support of a majority of investors.
Several opponents of the petition have argued that the SEC should not mandate disclosure of corporate political spending because, in many cases, shareholder proposals seeking such disclosure at individual companies are supported by less than a majority of voting shares. For example, Paul Atkins, a former SEC commissioner, argued in a recent article that “majorities of shareholders routinely refuse to support mandatory disclosure” of corporate political spending—and, thus, that shareholders are simply not interested in this information.