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Shareholders Want More Transparency on Political Spending

Jaclyn Jaeger | April 19, 2011

Ever since the Supreme Court issued its landmark Citizens United decision last year, striking down federal limits on corporate political spending, companies are free to spend unlimited sums on political campaigns—but not without running into backlash from shareholders.

Institutional Shareholder Services has, so far, tracked 77 shareholder proposals, seeking reports on political contributions or lobbying expenses in 2011, up from 56 proposals in all of 2010. Of these 77 proposals, 21 have been withdrawn, six have been omitted, and 50 are still pending. No vote results are in yet, says Ted Allen, head of publications at ISS, but many companies are taking them seriously.

“The majority of the withdrawals—both this year and last—have come because the companies made enough concessions to satisfy the proponents, if not to fulfill the resolution completely in all cases,” Allen says. Occasionally, a proponent will pull the resolution before the Securities and Exchange...

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