YEO Policy Books 2015 Policy Book - Page 12

Stockholder Approval for Political Expenditures Origin: Maryland State Legislature Bill Name/Number: S.B. 0153 Link: Click here Summary: This bill prohibits a Maryland corporation from using any money or other corporation property in connection with a political expenditure unless the corporation’s stockholders have authorized in advance the total amount of money or property that may be used for all political expenditures during a specific fiscal year of the corporation. The bill also requires a corporation to publish notice of political expenditure. Talking Points & Important Information: • A series of decisions by the current Supreme Court has not only created an explosion in unaccountable outside spending on elections; it has also allowed much of that spending to be invisible. No matter what CEOs, like Howard Schultz of Starbucks, tell the public and their shareholders about their own political spending, in many cases it is currently impossible to know how they are using corporate money to influence our elections. • Disclosure would empower shareholders to engage in oversight and ensure that political expenditures are in the firm’s interest, thereby avoiding risky political behavior. Shareholder resolutions concerning political spending are becoming more common every year because companies have found that they’re good for both business and the democratic process. As the Brennan Center for Justice has found, investors need information about political spending so that they can make informed decisions. Political activity creates risk for companies, as Target discovered in 2010 when it saw boycotts in response to political spending in favor of a gubernatorial candidate who opposed same-sex marriage. Studies show that political spending correlates with lower shareholder value. Furthermore, shareholders deserve to know whether their money is used to support causes they object to. • For more information on corporate political disclosure and accountability, check out this report by the Center for Political Accountability. 2015 POLICY BOOK STATE INTRO LEVEL PAGE 12