Activists are accusing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of succumbing to partisan pressure rather than pass a rule that would force companies to reveal their political contributions, reports Reuters.
Gathering Thursday outside the agency’s Washington headquarters, a group publicly charged the SEC for pandering to Republicans who oppose disclosure as well as campaign-spending restrictions because they feel they’re not relevant or “material” to investors.
By ignoring the issue, the watchdog agency is failing to do its job to protect the investor, the activists charge.
Reuters notes that although SEC Chair Mary Jo White has not publicly voiced her opinion on this issue, she has come out against drafting regulations that place “societal pressures on companies.”
Further, the newswire says that White has claimed that the agency does not have time to draft a regulation because it is too busy trying to enact the provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform act and other laws.
The agency’s unresponsiveness has frustrated activists.
Robert Jackson, a Columbia law professor, tells Reuters: “The SEC should closely consider a rule like this, rather than turning its back on investors’ interests because of Republican objections. The SEC is an independent agency. They are charged with protecting investors — not politicians.”
The campaign by the activists to lobby for a rule that would compel companies to reveal their political contributions originated with the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, which loosened campaign finance rules.
Although the SEC’s former chair Mary Schapiro did reportedly include this item on her checklist of priorities in 2013, Reuters says current chair White had it subsequently removed from the agenda.
Interestingly enough, on September 12 the SEC will be facing off with Republicans from New York and Tennessee in court. The politicians filed a lawsuit against the agency to “block a 2010 rule prohibiting investment advisers from making campaign contributions in exchange for contracts to manage public pension funds.” The politicians contend the rule violates rights to free speech.