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U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Menendez bill would force public companies to get shareholder approval for political spending

‘Dark money infesting our democracy has gone on long enough,’ New Jersey senator says

By David Wildstein, May 23 2019 12:52 pm

Public companies would need to get approval from a majority of shareholders to spend money on political activities if legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez is approved.

Companies have been empowered to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.

“Dark money infesting our democracy has gone on long enough. For almost ten years, corporations and powerful special interests have been secretly spending huge sums of ‘other people’s money’ to influence our elections,” Menendez said.  “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.”

Menendez’s Shareholder Protection Act would require shareholders to approve a political activities budget annually by a majority vote, require corporate boards to authorize any expenditure over $50,000 within that budget, and force details of political activity to be disclosed to shareholders and the Securities & Exchange Commission.

The bill is co-sponsored by sixteen Democratic senators, including presidential candidates Cory Booker, Kirstin Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.

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