While Congress and the courts continue to struggle with how much disclosure should be required in our campaign finance system, a new front could be opening up – litigation. Almost unnoticed by the main stream media, News Corp.’s proposed $139 million April 22 agreement to settle a shareholder derivative lawsuit included a clause that would require annual public disclosure of political contributions. The clause, which still needs to be approved by the Delaware Chancery Court, would also require the company to notify its board on an annual basis when payments exceeded $25,000.
As BNA, noted:
The clause is “a new angle, for sure,” said Timothy Smith, director of environmental, social and governance shareholder engagement at Walden Asset Management. Smith partly spearheaded an initiative in which shareholder resolutions were filed at more than 50 companies in the 2013 proxy season calling for disclosure of federal and state lobbying activities (3441 Money & Politics Report, 2/4/13).
This development follows a pending rulemaking petition before the SEC that would mandate such disclosures. On Monday May 6, James Madison’s Montpelier Center for the Constitution is sponsoring a two day conference entitled “Can Campaign Finance Be Reformed?” I will be participating in a panel focused on “Disclosure – What Should be Disclosed, When, By Whom?” along with University of Virginia Law Professors Michael Gilbert and Deborah Hellman. I’ll report back in.