News

Privacy and protected free speech are not burdens to bear or veils to pierce, but rights to celebrate, including at the most important juncture of all: when doing business with the U.S. Government.

“Politics Needs Privacy”, Roll Call, April 8, 2015

But as the Chief Justice pointed out, there is no such anonymity in today’s world. Individual donors will be tagged and their donations broadcast by groups claiming dedication to promoting transparency in the electoral process.

“When It Comes To Political Donations, There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Disclosure”, Forbes, October 10, 2014

Corporations have an obligation to do what is in the best interest of their shareholders, not comply with the demands of a non-profit that opposes speech by the business community,” added CCP Chairman Brad Smith, former Federal Election Commission Chairman. Smith continued: “With all of the misinformation peddled by groups like the Center for Political Accountability, it’s important to recognize the implications of activist investing and dragging the SEC into politics,” he said.

“‘Greater Transparency’ Really Means Shutting Down Corporate Free Speech”, Acton Institute Powerblog, September 30, 2014

The religious left’s long-running campaign to silence those with different views has moved aggressively into corporate boardrooms. CEOs and directors of public companies are being hectored by social justice activists to abandon lobbying and other political activities.

“The Holy War on Corporate Politicking”, RealClearReligion, August 11, 2014

The Center for Competitive Politics has a new white paper on the threats that corporations face from transparency activists: “A cadre of unions, public pension funds and activist investors are pursuing actions that would selectively burden American public companies from exercising their First Amendment rights to participate in public dialogue.” Read the report here: http://bit.ly/1j2xDrU

CCP: ACTIVISTS USING TRANSPARENCY TO HURT CORPORATIONS, Politico Influence, June 5, 2014

Shareholder proposals like the one before Walmart aren’t intended simply to create transparency. The goal is to snuff out corporate political spending completely—to candidates, campaigns, and especially civic and trade organizations that engage in political activity.

The Disclosure Police Target Walmart, The Weekly Standard, June 5, 2014

Mr. Gallagher, in a speech prepared for a corporate law conference in New Orleans, said the vast majority of shareholder proposals come from individuals or groups with “idiosyncratic and often political agendas” pushing resolutions unrelated to or in conflict with the long-term interests of shareholders.

SEC’s Gallagher Calls for Proxy-Proposal Overhaul, Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2014

This country’s most important arbiter of corporate law – Chief Justice Leo Strine of the Delaware Supreme Court – believes that shareholder democracy has run amok. In a startling new essay for the Columbia Law Review, “Can We Do Better by Ordinary Investors?” Strine outlines the deleterious long-term effects of subjecting corporate decision-makers to shareholder votes dominated by short-term investors.

Shrine: Stop shareholder activism from hurting American investors, Reuters, March 26, 2014

Though they are unable to impose legislative limits on corporate nonprofit donors, coalitions of investors, academics, and activists use a stick-and-carrot approach to discourage public corporations from engaging in politics.

The Continuing Battle for Free Speech, National Review, February 13, 2014

Six months after the Internal Revenue Service’s inspector general revealed that the tax-collection agency had been targeting conservative organizations for added scrutiny and delaying their applications for tax-exempt status, the IRS has proposed new rules for handling political activity by nonprofits. The proposed rules would plunge the agency deeper into political regulation.

The Latest IRS Power Grab, The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service, which has abused President Obama’s philosophical opponents and continues trying to limit political speech, remains unreformed. But the good news out of Washington is that the Securities and Exchange Commission has formally abandoned its own campaign to muzzle critics of big government.

The SEC Is Not the IRS, The Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2013

Missing from the Security and Exchange Commission’s list of regulatory priorities for the coming year is any plan to consider whether public companies should disclose their political spending, a setback for investor advocates who rallied behind the cause.

SEC drops disclosure of corporate political spending from its priority list, The Washington Post, November 30, 2013

For too long, disclosure has been viewed as the policy equivalent of a “free lunch” — all benefit and no cost. Disclosure is not always a bad thing. But it is not always a good thing, either.

Against Disclosure, The New York Times, November 8, 2013

Ten years ago, CPA “began engaging corporations to voluntarily provide disclosure and oversight of political spending,” asserts Mr. Freed – if by “voluntarily” Mr. Freed means mounting a campaign of deceit against corporate political spending employing all means necessary to embarrass or otherwise shame companies to bend to the will of leftist, post-Citizens United, “corporations/bad. unions/good” ideology.

Corporate Political Spending Report a Tool for Business Bullies, Acton Institute, September 15, 2013

In August Mr. Durbin sent letters to various CEOs demanding that they explain their ALEC financing, which they do not by law have to disclose, and declare themselves on such legislation. He then threatened to disclose the information at Tuesday’s show trial. This tactic earned him a rebuff in late August from AT&T senior vice president James Cicconi, who noted in a letter to Mr. Durbin that it seems “inescapable that any response to your request will be used by those interests whose purpose is to pressure corporations to de-fund organizations and political speech with which they disagree.”

Business Blackmail Backfire, Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2013

“Investor activism aimed at increasing shareholder value is appropriate. But a growing amount of it is intended to further social policies rather than returns. Eliot Spitzer, for instance, campaigning to become New York City’s comptroller, has promised to use the city’s five pension funds’ investments in public companies to pursue a “responsible” governance agenda.”

Political Investing Harms Public Pension Funds, Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2013

“It doesn’t take much imagination to conceive of situations in which the interests of a government-employees union pension fund might conflict with the goal of enhancing shareholder value at public corporations.”

Review and Outlook: The Proxy Advisory Racket, Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2013

“Free speech isn’t always free. It gets downright cumbersome when Dick Durbin has you on his enemies list.”

Editorial: Durbin’s enemies list, Chicago Tribune, August 8, 2013

“What Spitzer is proposing instead—in interviews, in articles, and in his new book, Protecting Capitalism Case by Case—is to use the power of public-employee pension funds to influence corporate policies. Ostensibly, he’d do that for the sake of the public good. What’s more likely to happen is that Spitzer will use the city’s power as shareholder to extract concessions from corporate America that further a populist liberal agenda.”

Out of Control? What Eliot Spitzer plans to do if he wins, Weekly Standard, July 29, 2013

In the past few years, a bevy of groups have popped up — many funded by the professional left’s favorite hedge fund speculator, George Soros — to push specific policies aimed at bullying, threatening and silencing America’s job creators.

Forcing companies to list political contributions undermines free speech, The Washington Times, July 2, 2013

[Since] the Citizens United decision in 2010 upheld the First Amendment rights of corporations to make partisan political expenditures, the ‘reform’ community has pivoted, and now argues that corporate spending is harmful to corporations and must be regulated to protect shareholders. Unable to lawfully prevent that spending, they have sought to have the SEC mandate corporate disclosure not only of direct political spending, but of dues to trade associations and contributions to 501(c) organizations. The goal … is to use that information to organize public relations campaigns and boycotts against companies that spend money to defend their political interests.

The Politics of Risk, Public Affairs Council, May 10, 2013

“Ultimately, Freed argues that not disclosing political spending creates unnecessary “risk” for a corporation. In business, avoiding unnecessary risk is a no-brainer. Yet the risk Freed warns of is actually manufactured by the very groups sounding the alarm.”

The ‘Transparency’ Agenda, Weekly Standard, May 13, 2013

You have to smile at this union pose as the friend of shareholders because the main “reputational risks” for business are attacks from the likes of Afscme.  The union wants the spending disclosed precisely so it can use the information to attack the companies. The risk to shareholders is from disclosure, not from the lobbying.

The Corporate Lobbying Proxy War, Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2013

The problems with increased mandatory disclosure range from a simple invasion of privacy to concerns that political donation information could lead to enemies’ lists and boycotts of businesses that give to political campaigns.

Citizens United: It’s Not About Democrats, Real Clear Politics, April 20, 2013

Under the guise of faith-based “economic and social justice,” however, the ICCR is attempting to prevent corporations from engaging in entirely legal and ethical efforts to work on their shareholders’ and customers’ behalf. As noted previously, initiatives such as the ICCR’s are an effort to force corporations to disclose efforts on their part to ensure corporate sustainability and shareholder profitability – endeavors protected by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

How Far Does Faith-Based ‘Shareholder Right to Know’ Go?, The Acton Institute, February 19, 2013

Investors cannot afford to be pawns in this cynical political ploy to further the agenda of special-interest groups. For their part, company executives must realize that they cannot appease these activists with more disclosure, because the activists are not satisfied until companies withdraw from the political debate altogether.

SEC rule on corporate political giving too extreme, Politico, February 3, 2013

Observers warn that “shareholder activism” in pursuit of political disclosure represents the first stage of coordinated intimidation campaigns against private companies conducted in the hope of discouraging them from donating to right-of-center nonprofit groups.

A Chilling Effect, The Washington Free Beacon, January 29, 2013

At the FEC, at the SEC and in Congress, we see that the Left hopes to chase conservatives out of the political marketplace of ideas by making it too costly to exercise the rights guaranteed by Citizens United. Ironically, constitutionally recognized protection against excessive compulsory disclosure of political participation, speech and funding is a legacy of the civil rights era, when the NAACP and other organizations fought states’ efforts to force public disclosure of their supporters.

Sunday Reflection: Free Speech and Citizens United, three years later, The Examiner, January 26, 2013

McConnell has been the most outspoken Republican to condemn the Obama administration’s efforts to reveal the names of donors who give to political groups, declaring that the president is attempting to “silence [his] critics.”

Obama bypasses Congress, attempts to force companies to reveal political donations through SEC, Daily Caller, January 18, 2013

Advocates frame this as an effort to provide openness and transparency. But the real motive here is to pressure corporations to reduce their political spending, in the process undermining a vital counterweight to left-wing environmental and labor groups.

EDITORIAL: Left takes aim at corporate political activity, The Examiner, January 17, 2013

Proponents of new disclosure rules at the SEC often quote Justice Louis Brandeis’s admonition that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Sunlight is a powerful disinfectant, but in the wrong proportion it can be deadly. So too can disclosure in the financial markets damage investor value if not properly calibrated.

The SEC Ponders Circumventing Citizens United, Wall Street Journal, January 7, 2013

This proposal for increased disclosure of political spending, like all other such regulatory burdens, is designed to benefit entrenched incumbents, making it more difficult for their critics to speak.

OPINION: Disclosure as political armament, Daily Caller, January 1, 2013

More likely the media simply ignore data that complicate their preferred narrative. When it comes to the fraught relationship between money and politics, that narrative is as follows: Money in politics is corrupting only because rich businessmen trade campaign donations to Republicans for low taxes and fewer environmental regulations.

See No Evil: Media avert eyes from Democratic campaign finance hypocrisy, Washington Free Beacon, November 30, 2012

Liberal Super PACs spent roughly $200 million during the 2012 election cycle on behalf of Democratic President Barack Obama’s reelection effort. Priorities USA Action alone spent more than $67 million. Super PACs overseen by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Majority PAC) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (House Majority PAC) spent a combined $68 million.

Buying the Election: Liberal Super PACs spend $200M, Washington Free Beacon, November 9, 2012

In the most critical sense, however, the goal is the same. Whether the means involve Federal Election Commission disclosure requirements, Securities and Exchange Commission rules on shareholder resolutions, or simply tagging those with opposing views as “hate groups,” the object is clear: to limit debate by forcing one side off the playing field.

The Chick-fil-A War is Back On, Wall Street Journal, September 24, 2012

Unions have significantly stepped up campaign contributions to New York City candidates compared with four years ago, a sign that organized labor intends to exert more influence in the 2013 race for City Hall.

Union Money Floods City, Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2012

In reality, the White House and its allies in Congress believe that some interest groups—like, say, the ones who support Republican candidates—are more sinister than others. As Bradley Smith, a former head of the Federal Elections Commission, noted recently in National Review Online, the bill is “designed to exempt unions from the membership disclosures it requires of other groups, and to allow unions—but not corporations—to make large undisclosed transfers of funds to the parent national and international associations.”

Faux Campaign Finance Reform, July 17, 2012

The [Disclose Act’s] real aim is to force trade associations and nonprofits to publicly name their donors. Such lists might be used by competing groups to poach members, or, more ominously, by government officials to threaten or retaliate against political opponents, or by interest groups to gin up boycotts and threats against the individual and corporate members of the groups.

DISCLOSE Is a SHAM, National Review Online, July 16, 2012

The Senate is expected to vote Monday on the DISCLOSE Act, a Democrat-sponsored bill requiring more disclosure of political activity. The bill faces fierce opposition from Senate Republicans who say it’s an attempt to target and harass donors.

Not-So-Full Disclosure, Washington Free Beacon, July 16, 2012

Disclosure is the watchword here for liberals, who hope to scare away businesses from participating in the political process by compelling all grass-roots groups to expose their donor lists. The lists of names can then be used to harass businesses large and small for political donations, a tactic that has already been used against companies like Target.

Disclosure Dishonesty, Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2012

Billed as “reform,” the measure is an attempt to identify and punish political enemies, or at the very least, intimidate others from participating in the process — an effort that’s already underway.

Disclose Act is un-American, USA Today, July 5, 2012

Proponents of the so-called Disclose Act would have us believe that the only groups they’re after are those engaged in causes associated with the right. Yet their efforts would also capture such groups as the Humane Society, Immigration Equality and the Environmental Defense Fund. Presumably these groups don’t want people snooping through their donor lists any more than Americans for Prosperity does.

The dangers disclosure can pose to free speech, Washington Post, June 22, 2012

Transparency in government is clearly a virtue, particularly of financial contributors to congressional and presidential candidates. But like any other good thing, transparency can be hijacked and turned into a weapon of political oppression.

McConnell, de Blasio are opposites in titanic free-speech clash, Washington Examiner, June 21, 2012

Asking government to regulate political speech is a poisonous idea. Politicians naturally think that people who challenge their power should be restrained. Sen. John McCain led the majority who championed “campaign finance reform” that, among other things, forbade anonymous donors to run ads in the crucial weeks just before elections (when most voters finally pay attention).

Regulating Political Speech, Real Clear Politics, June 20, 2012

Liberals have been trying to persuade CEOs and corporate boards to stop spending money on politics by claiming that it doesn’t pay. But according to a new study by the cofounder of the Democratic-leaning Progressive Policy Institute, corporate participation in politics works for the companies and their shareholders.

EDITORIAL: Political Spending Pays, Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2012

No individual or group in this country should have to face harassment or intimidation, or incur crippling expenses, defending themselves against their own government, simply because that government doesn’t like the message they’re advocating.

Fighting for the First Amendment, POLITICO, June 15, 2012

In a speech today at the American Enterprise Institute, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the Obama administration has shown “an alarming willingness itself to use the powers of government to silence” political speech of groups with which it disagrees.

McConnell Says Democrats Trying to ‘Silence’ Opponents, Bloomberg, June 15, 2012

Most of ALEC’s initiatives focus on free-market and business issues, but it also has sponsored voter identification and self-defense laws that have drawn the ire of the left. Since January, a coalition of liberal groups has waged an intense campaign to dismantle ALEC by targeting its corporate sponsors, filing legal challenges, and using shareholder activism against it.

The Anti-ALEC alliance, Washington Free Beacon, June 14, 2012

Campaign-finance proponents want to grant government the power to restrict political activity for the purpose of managing its own PR. The result of doing so is that government still has the same amount of power to abuse, but fewer people will notice or be concerned. That’s a great way to promote big government but a lousy way to promote trustworthy government.

Money and the ‘Appearance of Corruption’, Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2012

In the growing liberal war against corporate free speech, its highest-grade weapon these days is “transparency.” By pushing disclosure, the left can tee up companies for activist boycotts, protests and other actions designed to make political engagement as painful as possible. Think of this not as disclosure in the name of voter education, but disclosure in the name of mugging.

The Corporate Disclosure Ruse, Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2012

The point is to discourage companies from donating to trade associations such as the Chamber of Commerce or National Association of Manufacturers, and especially free-market groups that support policies the liberals don’t like. The public intimidation campaign has gone against Target and Wellpoint for donations they made to independent groups that in turn donated to causes liberals disliked.

EDITORIAL: Where Have All the Proxies Gone?, Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2012

ALEC’s real crime is this: For nearly four decades, it has been an effective, engaged facilitator of good governance and liberty-oriented legislation in statehouses across the country. Its critics don’t just object to one or two of the council’s programs, they object to its existence.

Why the Left Wants to Blacklist ALEC, Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2012

But it’s increasingly clear that the real point of these disclosure laws is not to inform voters but to get donor names in order to intimidate them from participating in politics. The goal is to dispatch hired guns like Mr. Simpson on political opponents to trash their reputations.

EDITORIAL: The President’s Hit List, Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2012

In the favored new tactic of the left, unions and activists are using politicized shareholder resolutions to send a message to corporations: Drop support for free-market and conservative causes, or you’ll take a political beating.

Intimidation by Proxy, Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2012

Boycotts are particularly unattractive when intended to squelch speech. In each of the previous examples, boycotts were organized to harm the target economically so that the target would pressure the original speaker to, well, shut up. The power of ideas is abandoned for the power of economic coercion.

OPINION: Welcome to Boycott Nation, Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2012

Is it suddenly disreputable to advocate free-market policies? That’s the question raised by a remarkable political assault on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which promotes reform in the 50 states. Led by former White House aide Van Jones, various left-wing activists and media are bullying big business to cut off ALEC’s funding. So much for free and open debate.

EDITORIAL: Shutting Down ALEC, Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2012

The political left is using this disclosure campaign not to serve the interests of shareholders, but to further its own policy agenda. It is an abuse of the proxy process, and companies would be wise to resist it in the interest of their business, their shareholders, and their country.

The Corporate Disclosure Assault, Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2012

Buried in the fine print of the Disclose Act are provisions that impede advocacy groups challenging incumbent politicians or working to influence legislation. The proposed law would do this by making political speech more expensive and running a non-profit organization more difficult.

Opposing view: We don’t need more disclosure on campaign ads, USA Today, February 22, 2012

It is clear that many are unhappy with the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United holding that the government may not prohibit either unions or corporations from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections.  In response, they are enlisting corporate proxy statements and other stockholders’ money in a campaign to limit political speech by corporations.

Political-Spending Disclosure Plans Could Have Hidden Costs, Forbes, January 31, 2012

The goal of this misinformation is clear. Reformers, who sit mainly on the political left, and their Democratic Party allies hope to silence voices that they perceive to be hostile to their political interests. Two years after Citizens United, American democracy seems as robust as ever. This may be what its critics fear most—a vibrant debate that they cannot control and fear they will lose.

OPINION: The War on Political Free Speech, Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2012

Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision restored the First Amendment rights of businesses and unions, “disclosure” has become the watchword for Democrats hoping to muzzle political speech by corporations. The latest gambit is to intimidate companies via the shareholder proxy process.

EDITORIAL: Shutting Up Business, Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2011

The latest ploy is an effort to convince American businesses to voluntarily disarm and leave the playing field to unions and foundation-funded lobbying groups. Leading this effort is an organization called the Center for Political Accountability (CPA)

OPINION: Another Union Attack on Corporate Speech, Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2011

Over the previous year, [Bill de Blasio] had used his seat on the board of New York City’s pension funds and the bully pulpit of his office to cow Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan into disclosing their political contributions—and in some cases, to agree to not make such donations altogether.

Bill de Blasio, George Soros and the War on Citizens United, City and State, October 17, 2011