The Center for Political Accountability (CPA) reported December 11 that at least 13 mutual fund families have reversed their votes so far this year and now support shareholder resolutions that call on public companies to disclose when they spend corporate funds on politics. The CPA calls itself a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that was founded in 2003 expressly to encourage greater transparency in corporate political spending. The CPA’s executive director, long-time Washington-based journalist and Congressional staffer, said in a statement that “Increasing support from mutual funds, which are major owners of companies, suggests they believe political disclosure increases company value and is a corporate governance standard.”
The CPA said it had worked with 26 partners in the socially responsible investment community to file 50 shareholder resolutions in 2008 that asked companies to disclose their soft money donations and payments to trade associations and other tax-exempt groups used for political purposes. The proposals, CPA said, received an average vote of 25%.
CPA cited the following fund families as showing “strong support for political disclosure”: Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs,American Century, Ameritas, Credit Suisse, ING, Legg Mason, MassMutual, Morgan Stanley, Oppenheimer, Phoenix, Schroder, and T Rowe Price.