US - Five New York City pension funds have submitted shareholder proposals asking 10 companies to disclose their policies and procedures for all political contributions using corporate money.
Eight of the companies contributed US$667,500 in soft money to political activities during 2003-2004, the last fully reported election cycle.
The proposals call on companies to prepare a report that includes the accounting of the company's funds used for political contributions, the identification of the person(s) who made the political contributions and a copy of the company's internal guidelines governing political contributions.
The funds have a total of US$1.3bn invested in the 10 companies and Comptroller William Thompson, who made the submission on behalf of the funds, said there was a need to ensure companies were more accountable to their shareholders and the public.
“Corporate executives should not feel free to use their company assets to advance any political objectives that are not shared by shareholders and the entire company," said Thompson. "We are urging these companies to support this important critical governance reform.
Betsy Gotbaum, New York City Employees' Retirement System trustee, added that, by pushing companies to disclose their policies for political contributions, the funds were not only contributing to a more transparent political process but also working to ensure that shareholders get the best possible return on their money.
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