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Feb 10, 2016

Campaign for Accountability launches political spending suit

Suit against SEC aims to force creation of new disclosure regulations

The Campaign for Accountability, a US-based non-profit organization that aims to fight government misconduct, has launched a lawsuit with the aim of forcing the SEC to require companies to disclose political campaign donations and other political spending.

The suit asks the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to ‘compel the SEC to take all steps necessary to propose a corporate disclosure rule… requiring corporations to disclose to shareholders and the public alike their use of corporate funds for political activities’, according to a petition lodged with the court.

The suit was filed on behalf of activist investor Stephen Silberstein to back his pending request for a rule compelling public companies to disclose political spending.

‘With billions of dollars flowing into the US presidential election, shareholders deserve to know how the companies they own are spending corporate funds,’ says Anne Weismann, executive director of Campaign for Accountability, in a press release. ‘Despite overwhelming public support, the SEC has refused to shed a light on how much money corporations have contributed to dark money groups and other political organizations.’

This is the second suit launched by Campaign for Accountability, which was created last year with the goal of ‘exposing misconduct and malfeasance in public life’. The body aims to force the disclosure of political spending by public companies in the US.

Last May the organization launched a lawsuit against the SEC to compel it to create a rule requiring political spending disclosure. That suit, also filed on behalf of Silberstein, was dismissed by a DC District Court judge who ruled only the DC Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction in the matter.

Last year, in another lawsuit, Silberstein alleged that insurance company Aetna violated federal securities law by failing to tell shareholders about money it was spending on political campaigns. The suit was dismissed by a federal judge in New York.