Five major U.S. companies have agreed to disclose their political spending under agreements reached with the New York State Common Retirement Fund, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today. DiNapoli’s political spending proposal at Twitter also received a majority of support from shareholders at the company’s annual meeting, and he has since called on the company to fully implement the proposal.
The agreements were reached with casino and resort operator Las Vegas Sands Corp., computer networking company VeriSign Inc., cruise operator Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., insurance company The Progressive Corp. and cosmetics retailer Ulta Beauty Inc. DiNapoli separately announced a similar agreement with clothing maker Hanesbrands Inc. in January. All are Fund portfolio companies.
“America’s political system is so deeply divided that it is questionable whether it makes sense for corporations to spend any money at all on political causes,” DiNapoli said. “At a minimum, investors need full transparency and accountability on the use of corporate dollars to further political agendas so we can determine whether it furthers a company’s business strategy or puts it at risk. The businesses that have agreed to these disclosures are setting a good example for their peers to follow.”
The proposals filed by the Fund asked the companies to publicly report monetary and nonmonetary contributions and expenditures (direct and indirect) to any campaign for or against a candidate, or to influence the public for an election or referendum. Under the agreements, the companies will post their political contribution policies to their websites and post an annual or semiannual political contributions disclosure report.
Since the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling striking down certain restraints on corporate political spending, DiNapoli has made it a priority to engage the Fund's portfolio companies on disclosing their political spending. After recent events, including the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, along with increased political polarization, DiNapoli has urged companies to consider whether political spending is ever in the long-term interest of shareholders.
Comptroller DiNapoli’s Political Spending Disclosure Engagements
Since 2010, the Comptroller DiNapoli has filed 169 shareholder proposals on political spending disclosure and 54 major corporations have adopted or agreed to adopt such disclosure, including Bank of America Corp., Delta Airlines and PepsiCo Inc.
About the New York State Common Retirement Fund
The New York State Common Retirement Fund is one of the largest public pension funds in the United States with assets of approximately $279.7 billion as of Dec. 31, 2021. The Fund holds and invests the assets of the New York State and Local Retirement System on behalf of more than one million state and local government employees and retirees and their beneficiaries. The Fund has consistently been ranked as one of the best managed and best funded plans in the nation.