Friday, January 11, 2013

Corporate campaign donations

Sue Reisinger at's Corporate Counsel writes that, with the beginning of the new year, both Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission are pondering what to do about secret corporate campaign donations -- an outcome that could mean general counsel would be grappling with several new rules on corporate giving at some point.

"The Friday before the long Christmas 2012 weekend --and without a press release --" Reuters reported, "the agency's Division of Corporation Finance posted an agenda item with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs simply stating 'The Division is considering whether to recommend that the Commission issue a proposed rule to require that public companies provide disclosure to shareholders regarding the use of corporate resources for political activities.'"

"SEC has been under growing public pressure," Reisinger's article continued, "to consider a disclosure rule after the U.S. Supreme Court unleashed unlimited independent spending in its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in 2010. That landmark opinion also endorsed strong disclosure laws -- so a bipartisan panel of law professors filed a petition with the SEC in August 2011, requesting that the agency pass a corporate disclosure rule. (See proposed rule)

"Meanwhile, a disclosure bill—the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act—was reintroduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives on the first day of the 113th Congress last week -- the third time that lawmakers have tried to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would require contributors of at least $10,000 to publicly reveal their gifts."

On yet another front, CorpCounsel says, the nonprofit advocacy group Public Campaign Action Fund released a report last week suggesting that corporate campaign contributions are fueling the record amount of filibustering. That report, released January 3, accuses Republican senators of averaging 130 filibusters in each two-year session of Congress—double the number in each session when the Democrats were last in the Senate minority.

The L.A. Times and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who reintroduced the DISCLOSE Act from previous sessions last week, have addition information along with a link to the bill’s summary

Thomas' Legislative Information link to the bill (HB 148), introduced Jan. 3, 2013,  is here.  

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