Letter to the Editor: These Proxy Votes Really Aren’t About Transparency

http://www.wsj.com/articles/these-proxy-votes-really-arent-about-transparency-1443125100

The article “CFO Journal: A Stubborn Political Divide” (Business & Tech., Sept. 15) grossly overstates the amount businesses donate to candidates and political groups. Any personal contribution that identifies an employer is considered a business contribution. In fact, individual contributions make up well over half of the alleged “business” contributions that were reported.

The article states that for 10 years, “shareholders” have submitted proposals to Charles Schwab requesting more information related to its public-policy expenditures. Let’s be clear. Ordinary investors aren’t filing these resolutions. The New York City Pension Funds, which are solely controlled by a partisan political official, have filed shareholder proposals at Schwab for the past nine years in a row. Unsurprisingly, actual shareholders focused on their return on investment think otherwise, and every time have overwhelmingly rejected these proposals by more than a 3-to-1 margin, which is consistent with the average level of opposition to such shareholder proposals related to public-policy advocacy.

Public companies need to recognize that this movement isn’t about transparency and good governance but is instead an effort by political activists to silence the business community.

Paul S. Atkins