One way to tackle Big Money’s role in the political system would be to better regulate corporate political spending. Right now, big corporations can engage in widespread political spending and hide much of it behind opaque bureaucracy. Activists are calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue rules that would govern this spending. One way to do this would be to require publicly traded corporations to disclose their political spending.

The Corporate Reform Coalition, which includes many leading advocacy organizations as well as “institutional investors managing a combined total of $800 billion in assets, as well as public officials, legal scholars, good government groups, environmental organizations” — mounted an aggressive campaign to get the SEC to agree to these regulations. As a result, the SEC received a record-breaking 178,000 comments.

“Mandating transparency is well within the SEC’s authority,” said a statement released by the Coalition. “The SEC should help the public and shareholders hold CEOs accountable for what they spend in politics.”

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  • erichthinks

    I like the notion, I love that there are 178,000 motivated people out there… But – this is like calling on raindrops to stop falling in order to stem the floodwaters… How about we build a roof or move out of the floodplain? The SEC is full of insiders with demonstrable interest in protecting the status quo. Nip it in the bud and amend the Constitution to enforce publicly funded elections with/or limited *personal* grassroots donations plz, and don’t make me get a reference book on ‘personhood.’ National Ballot Initiatives, plz. Worried about a tyranny by majority? Well, as it is, the majority is getting hammered by worse policy than what a national ballot initiative would require…

    • Simon Jester

      Well, yes. But you have to realize, what are the chances of passing any sort of anti-corporation law nowadays, let alone a whole amendment?

      • Time2CChange

        There was this guy in Chicago who really enjoyed his work as an accountant and he was a stickler for honesty. He argued that accountants’ responsibility was to investors not their clients’ management. He eventually opened his own accounting firm and became well known by his motto “think straight talk straight”, that person was Arthur Andersen.

        In 2002 the firm surrendered it’s licenses to practice as certified public accountants in the U.S. after being convicted of shredding documents over the Enron debacle. Arthur Andersen and Enron both (for the most part) go out of business and Congress writes the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

        America watches WorldCom fold which is followed by Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual.

        Because of these types of corporate scandals continued to grow Congress decides to revisit finance reform by writing the Dodd-Frank Act in 2011. American taxpayers are sick and tired of picking up the tab while CEO’s and CFO’s seem to always walk away with ridiculous executive compensation packages or golden parachutes.

        Why hasn’t the SEC enforced the clawback provisions against those CEO’s or CFO’s who deceive their shareholders and employee’s at publicly traded companies?

        When any of the remaining bif four accounting firms fail to detect deficiencies or weaknesses in the internal accounting controls they should be held responsible.

        The Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Dodd-Frank Act are only worth the paper they’re written on unless the SEC,PCAOB and FASB take real action and enforce the legal language in these finance reform laws.

        This is exactly why we find people occupying city streets and parks throughout our great country.

        OccupyWallStreet is growing and will continue to grow unless we get corporate money out of politics.

    • CatKinNY

      While I agree with you completely, I’m less pessimistic about the SEC blithely dismissing 178,000 comments. They know how much bipartisan anger there is over the failure of the SEC to effectively regulate the financial sector, and over Citizens United. I too want a Constituional Amendment, but some regulation from the SEC is probably a lighter lift. Let the the big donors take it to court; the SCOTUS is also aware that there is a bipartisan majority that wants to lynch Scalia and Thomas.

    • MariaEC

      I’m afraid I’m a pessimist too. I think this nation has gone far beyond the point of rescue. While we’re taking a chisel to chip away at the corruption we can see, corporate special interests are taking over more and more facets of this nation’s internal workings like a rapidly growing cancer. We’re doomed as a society especially since half of us refuse to see how the system has evolved to serve against the interests of the common man.. I mean, I’m not giving up and I’ll continue to fight against it but the power and the money is definitely not on our side and those are really the only way that gets anything accomplished.

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