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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Malinowski (NJ-7)

(Washington, DC) Today, Representatives Tom Malinowski (NJ-7)) and Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5) introduced The Shareholder Protection Act, a bill that will require the shareholders of publicly listed companies to authorize, on an annual basis, any spending by that company on political activities.  Senator Bob Menendez (NJ) introduced the Senate version of the legislation in May.

Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, corporations have been able to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections. They are not even required to disclose these contributions to their shareholders, let alone allow them to have a say.  Shareholders deserve to know and have control over how their invested money is being used, and the general public should know whether and how public companies are spending their profits for political purposes. 

The Shareholder Protection Act also requires a company’s Board of Directors to vote to authorize each expenditure over $50,000 within the overall budget approved by shareholders. Public companies would then have to disclose board member votes online, to shareholders, and to the SEC.

“Corporations spend billions of dollars to influence our elections, which is one reason the American people have lost faith in their government – and why I don’t take a penny from corporate PACS in my campaigns.” said Representative Malinowski. “Until we can overturn the Citizens United decision, the least we can do is to empower shareholders to know and control their companies’ political spending.”

“For almost a decade, corporations and powerful special interests have been secretly spending huge sums of ‘other people’s money’ to influence our elections.  It’s time to shine the light on all the dark money infesting our democracy.  It’s gone on long enough and must stop,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, the bill’s author.  “Shareholders—not corporate executives—should be making the call about whether or not they want their money spent on political campaigns.  This bill would finally bring some transparency to corporate political spending and strengthen democratic values in our elections.  I’m pleased that Congressmen Malinowski and Cleaver have agreed to champion this common sense legislation in the House and look forward to working with them to make the Shareholder Protection Act the law of the land.”

“The Shareholder Protection Act is critical to increasing transparency around the flood of corporate spending in our elections. By mandating shareholder and board approval and establishing public reporting requirements, this bill will strengthen accountability and shine a light on corporate money in elections. Throughout his career, Rep. Malinowski has been speaking truth to power as a strong advocate for reform and End Citizens United Action Fund thanks him for his leadership. We strongly urge the House to pass this critical piece of legislation,” said End Citizens United Action Fund President Tiffany Muller.

“When multi-national and domestic corporations spend secret money in politics, our communities and our children often suffer as a result of the flawed policies that these corporations are pushing,” said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs at the non-partisan watchdog Common Cause. “We commend Congressman Malinowski for introducing the Shareholder Protection Act because the owners of a company—the shareholders—deserve to have a voice in how their hard-earned money is spent.”