Levin Introduces Legislation Promoting Transparency in Political Spending

January 21, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09) introduced the Transparency in Corporate Political Spending Act, which would reverse a law that prevents the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) from requiring corporations to disclose their political spending.

“In the wake of an insurrection against our Capitol that was preceded by rallies funded by millions of dollars of anonymous corporate spending, it is more apparent than ever that Americans have a right to know how major companies influence our politics,” said Rep. Levin. “Secret corporate spending poses a threat to our democracy, to citizens’ faith in their political system and to investor confidence. For years, an appropriations rider has stopped the SEC from taking commonsense steps to increase transparency in corporate political spending. This legislation will remove that rider and pave the way for increased oversight of our country’s wealthiest corporations and donors.”

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC allowed corporations to make unlimited political contributions, investors and citizens concerned about the future of American democracy have looked to the SEC to require corporate disclosure of political spending. In 2011, a bipartisan committee of leading corporate and securities law professors filed the first petition requesting rulemaking at the SEC requiring all public companies to disclose their political expenditures.

The agency received an historic 1.2 million comments regarding the rulemaking petitions, which overwhelmingly affirmed investor and citizen desire for more transparency in political spending. After the rulemaking was placed on the agency’s agenda in 2013, the process was stalled by the SEC’s previous chair in 2014 and has since been obstructed by an appropriations bill policy rider that prohibits the SEC from finalizing the rulemaking on corporate political spending disclosure.

The Transparency in Corporate Political Spending Act would remove this policy rider, allowing the SEC to promulgate rules regarding the disclosure of corporate political contributions, contributions to tax-exempt organizations and dues paid to trade associations.