by ZACH CARTER, Huffington Post - Washington DC
As the Securities and Exchange Commission considers requiring corporations to disclose their political spending to shareholders, a coalition of institutional investors and public interest groups are seeking to make next week's Bank of America shareholder meeting a flashpoint for getting corporate money out of politics.
Consumer watchdog Public Citizen and a host of activist groups are planning protests around several major shareholder meetings in the coming months, but the Bank of America meeting Wednesday will be among the most prominent. At the meeting, Trillium Asset Managment, a firm that manages $1 billion in environmentally friendly investments, will present a resolution that would bar the company from engaging in any political spending whatsoever. That ban would include lobbying, campaign contributions and donations to politically oriented groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. BofA has given money to ALEC, but the Chamber is more secretive about its members, and it is not clear whether BofA has contributed to the Chamber or not.
In recent years, significant percentages of shareholders at some large companies have voted to require their firms to provide increased disclosure about the extent of their political donations, although none of these resolutions have passed to date. And Trillium views its more aggressive proposal to get BofA to end all political spending as intimately connected with a campaign pressuring the SEC to require disclosure. [MORE]