Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Unions ask Obama to improve political disclosure

The Teamsters and 12 other union groups sent a letter to President Obama yesterday urging him to sign an executive order that would require businesses receiving federal funding to disclose all of their political contributions.

It's part of a continuing effort by the IBT and our allies to crack down on secret corporate political spending, which has become a scourge of U.S. democracy. In the wake of the devastating 2010 Citizens United ruling, the Supreme Court expected the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue rules that would give investors transparency on company donations. However, the SEC has refused to act on the matter.

So the unions in the letter said they are now looking for help from the president who has the ability to seek further disclosures from government contractors:
An Executive Order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending would reach at least 70 percent of the Fortune 100 companies – an important step in shedding light on the millions of dollars influencing our campaigns and elections.
As it stands, at least $600 million in political contributions have been made by nameless donors since 2010. Without proper transparency, voters are left in the dark about the sources and funders of campaign advertising meant to influence voters' choices at the ballot box.

Companies are increasingly playing an outsized role in U.S. elections. In many cases, they donate money to advocate controversial policies that could antagonize their customers and undermine their businesses. But the public has no idea.

That's not how it should be. Unions are required to disclose their contributions. And millions of people making retirement investments have a right to know about how the companies they’ve purchased shares in are spending their cash.

Fair is fair.