By James Hoffa
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews guest columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Companies increasingly are playing an outsized role in U.S. elections. In many cases, they donate money to advocate controversial policies that could antagonize their customers and undermine their businesses. Because so many of these contributions are not disclosed, however, shareholders are left in the dark and unable to evaluate potential conflicts or risks.
Investors are demanding improved corporate disclosures through shareholder resolutions and by urging the Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt new rules. Despite hundreds of thousands of letters from investors urging the agency to take action, it dropped the issue from its list of regulatory priorities earlier this year.
While some companies have done the right thing by making all their political expenditures public, there are still too many publicly listed ones that refuse to raise the veil of secrecy regarding their political giving.
The Teamsters invests more than $100 billion in the capital markets through affiliated pension and benefit funds. In addition, our members trade as individuals and as participants in employer-sponsored plans. We are part of a growing chorus of shareholders concerned about political spending.