Pension funds mobilized for political spending disclosure

Five U.S. companies will disclose their political donations after reaching a settlement with New York’s pension fund, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced Thursday.

The disclosure agreement reached with the companies comes after the fund used its leverage as a shareholder to push for change.

“The American political system is so deeply divided that one wonders if it makes sense for corporations to spend money on political causes,” DiNapoli said. “At a minimum, investors need full transparency and accountability about the use of corporate money to advance political agendas so that we can determine whether it furthers a company’s business strategy or puts her in danger. Companies that have accepted these disclosures are setting a good example for their peers to follow.

The five companies that have agreed to disclose their campaign donations are Las Vegas Sands Corp., computer networking company VeriSign Inc., cruise line Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., insurance company The Progressive Corp. and cosmetics retailer Ulta Beauty Inc. Meanwhile, a majority of Twitter, Inc. shareholders have asked the company to disclose its political donations as well, DiNapoli said.

Over the past decade, the Comptroller’s Office has sought to use pension fund investments in major U.S. corporations to enforce political donation disclosure rules after court rulings imposed limits on when contributions to political causes and candidates must be disclosed.

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