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Chris MacKenzie,
U.S. PIRG

94 Lawmakers Urge SEC to Pursue Rules Strengthening Political Spending Disclosure

Omnibus rider does not prohibit SEC from continuing disclosure work
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, 94 Members of Congress signed a letter to SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White, urging the SEC to continue developing rules that strengthen corporate political spending disclosure. While riders in last week’s budget deal prevent the agency from finalizing, issuing, or implementing related regulations in Fiscal Year 2016, Tuesday’s letter states that the SEC remains free to work on and develop proposals for disclosure rules.

“Secret corporate political spending is bad for investors, it’s bad for taxpayers, and it’s bad for our democracy,” said Emma Boorboor, Election Reform Campaign Director with U.S. PIRG. “While still disappointing that some lawmakers have attempted to use a must pass spending bill to block progress on disclosure, today’s Congressional letter to the SEC highlights that this rider does not prevent the SEC from continuing work on stronger disclosure requirements. Millions of voters have spoken out for political spending disclosure, and it’s time for the SEC to take action as allowed by this year’s budget deal.”

Click here for the full text of Tuesday’s letter and the accompanying legal opinion.

Twenty-eight senators and 66 representatives signed Tuesday’s letter to SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White. The letter and accompanying legal opinion explain that the omnibus rider prevents the SEC from using FY16 funds to finalize and implement new disclosure rules. This does not prevent the agency from discussing, planning, revising, investigating, or developing plans or draft proposals to prepare a final rule for after FY16.

The SEC has received more than 1.2 million public comments in favor of political spending disclosure, including from leading academics in securities law, investment managers and advisers, 70 major endowed foundations, and a number of state treasurers.

The legal opinion accompanying Tuesday’s letter was written by John C. Coates IV, professor of law and economics at Harvard Law School.

Lawmakers who signed the letter include the following:

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and U.S. Reps. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

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U.S. PIRG, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.

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