As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m helping a long-shot local statehouse candidate with his campaign finance filing. I’m his treasurer. It’s not difficult. There’s the Handbook of Ohio Campaign Finance to refer to, and we file with the Secretary of State online. I enter the donor name and address on a form and once the report is filed, those names are publicly available.
We met with a small business owner 2 weeks ago. He wanted to fire questions at us for 45 minutes and then (possibly) donate. It was like a competition to see which side could speak more quickly, interrupt the other more often, and listen not at all. I thought he won that in a walk, so didn’t expect a donation after that disaster of an inquisition. His name is on the door of the local business he owns and operates, and when I file my next report, his name will also be on the candidate’s donor list, because we seem to have survived the hazing: he wrote us a check. Will that matter to his customers in this overwhelmingly Republican county? I don’t know. I hope not. I know that we had local volunteers for John Kerry in 2004 who work at the for-profit hospital here. They parked across the street in the supermarket lot when we met for phone banking, because they were afraid they’d face repercussions at work if it became known that they were volunteering for that Alinskyite radical Leftist, Senator John Kerry.
Contrast that with the absolute cowardice and incessant, bleating whining of the moneyed few, speaking through an editorial in Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ:
Shareholder proxy season is coming up, and along with it a new batch of politicized shareholder resolutions. The underreported story this year is the flowering of a long-planned political campaign intended to stop companies from exercising their free-speech rights to influence government. Corporate directors need to know what they’re up against.
The campaign is traveling under the assumed name of “disclosure,” which sounds innocuous and is hard for CEOs and corporate boards to oppose. The specific target is to get companies to publicly disclose what they spend on politics—their donations to candidates or PACs, how much they spend on lobbying or government affairs, which industry associations they contribute to, and even in some cases the political contributions of executives.
It’s part of a multiyear campaign by unions, left-wing activists and their factotums to expose and then vilify companies that disagree with them.
The campaign has gained speed since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling that restored First Amendment rights to unions and corporations.
Corporations are not democracies. They are businesses organized for the purpose of making money to increase value for all shareholders, not to serve the narrow goals of some shareholders.
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.
And, here’s the great Richard Trumka, in his advocate’s hat, responding:
Your editorial “The Corporate Disclosure Assault” (March 19) falsely claims that disclosure of corporate political expenditures is not in the best interest of all shareholders. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in Citizens United, which upheld the First Amendment rights of corporations to make independent political expenditures, explicitly relied in part on the principle that “prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters.”
Current law enables businesses to spend for many political purposes without disclosure, whether to the public or their shareholders. The editorial’s suggestion that businesses should be able to conceal their political spending in order to avoid criticism or controversy disserves shareholders. As Justice Antonin Scalia recently observed in another case, Doe v. Reed, which rejected First Amendment-based claims for keeping secret the identities of ballot-petition signers, “Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.”
Unions have long been required to make public disclosures of their political and other spending. Corporations that spend to influence politics have no legitimate gripe against shareholder disclosure resolutions that would require them to publicly disclose that spending—and they have ample opportunity and resources to explain why that spending advances shareholder value and the public interest.
Richard L. Trumka
They want what they always want: all of the rewards with none of the risk. Risk is for the people who can least afford it.