The New School Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility Calls for Mandatory Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending

Monday, October 15th -- The New School’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR) today submitted a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) calling for disclosure of political spending by public corporations. The ACIR is a body of trustees, faculty, staff and students of The New School charged with incorporating consideration of social, environmental, and corporate governance issues into the management of The New School's endowment investments. The ACIR’s letter to the SEC is the first from a university body in support of Petition 4-637, which urges the SEC to use its rule-making authority to mandate disclosure of corporate campaign financing.

Following the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, political campaigns have been flooded by soft money of ambiguous origin. Terra Lawson-Remer, faculty member and chair of the ACIR states that, "it has become increasingly clear that non-transparent and unaccountable corporate financing of political campaigns is corroding our democracy.” The New School ACIR is urging the SEC to mandate the disclosure of material corporate political spending, in order to facilitate market transparency, assist shareholders in monitoring the spending practices of the corporations they own, provide the information necessary for universities to invest prudently and in line with their missions, and illuminate the activities of corporations in the elections that govern this nation.

The ACIR of The New School has prioritized this issue as it believes that American universities, who collectively hold over $400 billion in their endowments, have a special responsibility to ensure that their investments align with the ethos of the overall institution. Izza Aftab, student representative on the ACIR and a graduate student in economics, noted that, “Universities play the dual role of investors and educators in a dynamic environment. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that universities call for transparency in corporate political spending in order to set standards for the students of today, who are the leaders of tomorrow.” Non-transparency, and the corresponding failures of weak accountability and poor governance, undermines the values and practices of educational institutions.  These concerns are of particular concern at The New School, given its long history of progressive social action and critical thought.

You can read the letter on the SEC website here.

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