Bill Combats Supreme Court's Egregious Holding
Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-8) scored a major legislative victory with the passage of the "Shareholder Protection Act" in the House Financial Services Committee today. The Congressman is an original cosponsor of the bill.
The bill (H.R. 4790) requires the approval of a majority of a public company's shareholders for any expenditure by that company to influence elections.
Congressman Grayson said, "The Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling poses a serious threat to our democracy. We cannot let corporate fat cats write a company check to buy the election of Members of Congress. This bill gives shareholders a voice. If we do nothing, we will end up having the Representative from BP, or the Senator from AIG."
The bill closely mimics Congressman Grayson's "The End of Hijacking of Shareholder Funds Act" (H.R. 4487), which he introduced as part of his Defend Our Democracy platform.
Two of Congressman Grayson's amendments strengthened the Shareholder Protection Act. They aim to ensure that the political leanings of a publicly-traded company and its leaders are clear. The first amendment requires institutional investment managers to report how they vote their proxies on any shareholder vote within 30 days of any such vote. The second amendment requires corporations to file the actual content of the political advertising with the SEC, and post it on their websites.
"Shareholders have a right to know what the managers of companies do about political campaigns, since the managers are playing with the shareholders' money. The public deserves to know for what kind of political ads the companies pays. My amendments turn these two basic ideas into the law of the land," Grayson said.
With today's vote, three of the Congressman's bills in his Defend Our Democracy platform have been incorporated into legislation. The premise of his "End Political Kickbacks Act" (H.R. 4434) and "America is for Americans Act" (H.R. 4510) were incorporated in the DISCLOSE Act. The DISCLOSE Act passed the House on June 24, 2010, and is now stalled in the Senate by a Republican filibuster.