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WSJ cites Proxy Monitor project: 'Shareholders are rejecting efforts to limit political speech'

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Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal followed up on their recent piece which revealed the ineffectiveness of the activist tactic to suppress corporate speech vis-à-vis the corporate proxy process. This time they were bolstered by quantitative data released by the Manhattan Institute's Proxy Monitor project and our very own Jim Copland's new mid-term report.

Citing Copland's new finding, the Wall Street Journal reported:

It's halftime in the shareholder proxy season, so how's that big push to limit corporate political spending working out? According to new findings from the Manhattan Institute's ProxyMonitor, the campaign is something short of a tour de force.


Among the 150 Fortune 200 companies that had held their annual meetings by May 29, 21% of shareholder proposals were related to corporate political spending or political lobbying, making it the largest proxy category. Overall, companies had a 30% likelihood of encountering a political spending proposal this year, up from between 9% and 11% from 2006 to 2009.

For all of that effort, the unions and liberals can't be loving the results. While the number of political spending proposals was up some 50% over last year, the percentage of shareholders voting in favor fell slightly, to 20% in 2012 from 22% in 2011.

Among proposals calling for corporate political spending disclosure, the fall was steeper, to 22% in 2012 from 26% in 2011. Proposals calling for a "shareholder advisory vote on political spending" or an outright ban on corporate political spending won the support of only between 4% and 6%.

Oh, and not a single political spending or lobbying proposal passed.

We will continue to track the trends as reported by the Proxy Monitor database and regular findings. As a side note, George Will authored a very interesting piece in the Washington Post on Wednesday which pointed out that "Through March 31, the eight leading super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidates received contributions totaling $96,410,614. Of this, $83,220,167 (86.32 percent) came from individuals, only $13,190,447 (13.68 percent) from corporations, and only 0.81 percent from public companies." This very important statistic significantly undermines much of the politicized rhetoric critical of the Citizens United decision.

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.