Dear President Obama:
Corporations are flooding our elections with millions of dollars in secret political contributions,
drowning out the voices of working families. Yet two weeks ago, Republican leaders
successfully forced a rider into must-pass legislation to fund our government that prohibited the
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from issuing a final rule requiring public companies
to disclose these political contributions. As the White House Press Secretary noted, the rider
“essentially protect[ s] the ability of special interests to funnel money into political campaigns
without having to disclose it.” Democrats will continue to fight to remove the rider when
Congress considers the next government funding bill in December, and I urge you to make clear
in advance that you will veto any bill that includes it.
But the rider is not the biggest barrier to making progress on this critical issue. For years, the
Chair of the SEC, Mary Jo White, has refused to develop a political spending disclosure rule
despite her clear authority to do so, and despite unprecedented and overwhelming investor and
public support for such a rule.
This brazen conduct is merely the most recent and prominent example of Chair White
undermining your Administration’s priorities and ignoring the SEC’s core mission of investor
protection. From the beginning of her tenure, Chair White has made clear that she is concerned
that companies disclose too much to investors – a presumption directly counter both to the views
of investors themselves and the animating purpose of this agency for more than eighty years.
She has failed to complete disclosure mandates Congress enacted in the wake of the 2008
financial meltdown, while simultaneously devoting the SEC’s limited discretionary resources to
a far-reaching, anti-disclosure initiative cooked up by big business lobbyists seeking to reduce
the amount of information public companies …