Disclosure is a bedrock principle of both our capital markets and our democracy. Neither can function properly without it. For the past ten years, we have devoted significant attention to the systemic risk of corporate political spending – the use of corporate funds to influence the outcome of elections.
Since 2009, we have been actively engaged with JPMorgan Chase to encourage full disclosure and effective board oversight of the bank’s political spending. During the first quarter, after discussions with Domini, the bank completed a series of important changes to its political spending policies, effectively withdrawing from electoral politics. The bank’s new policies prohibit the use of corporate treasury funds for any electoral activities – directly or indirectly (through trade associations, for example) – including political advertising. The bank may still finance ballot initiatives and may engage in certain electoral activities through its employee-funded Political Action Committee. This spending will be fully disclosed. As a result of these significant policy commitments, we withdrew our shareholder proposal.
After several years of receiving shareholder proposals from Domini, AT&T has taken an important step towards full political transparency and accountability. After a strong shareholder vote on our proposal last year, and dialogue with Domini, AT&T has begun complete disclosure of its direct political contributions, including payments to a variety of political organizations. The company stopped short of our request, however, by not disclosing its payments to trade associations – increasingly important players in electoral politics – and we therefore chose to leave our proposal on the ballot. We look forward to continuing our dialogue.