From: The Honorable Matt Cartwright
Sent By: Mae.Stevens@mail.house.gov
Bill: H.R. 2670
Date: 7/15/2014

Cosponsor H.R. 2670 – The OPEN Act

Cosponsors (29): Andrews, Brady, Cicilline, Clyburn, Cohen, DeFazio, Ellison, Engel, Enyart, Farr, Fattah, Grayson, Green, Grijalva, Honda, Lowenthal, Lujan Grisham, O’Rourke, Rush, Sanchez, Sanchez, Shea-Porter, Sires, Swalwell, Takano, Tonko, Vargas, Yarmuth

Dear Colleague,

In August 2011, the New York Times ran an editorial urging that the wall of secrecy hiding corporate political spending from a company’s own shareholders be torn down. Nearly two years later, shareholders are still in the dark.

Investors need information in order to hold the companies they own accountable. They have a right to know if their money is being used to fund attack ads, as do union members. As early as 2006, polls revealed that more than 85% of investors think there is too little transparency in corporate political spending[1]. Shareholder proposals requesting disclosure of political spending are now the most common proposals brought at large public companies—more proposals are brought on this issue than any other major corporate-governance issue, including executive pay and board elections.

Of particular concern is the issue of undisclosed corporate donations to non-transparent 501(c)(4)s or “social welfare” groups. Election spending by these groups has grown dramatically in recent years, from $7.6 million in 2004 to more than $256 million in 2012[2]. Groups like Crossroads GPS, the top spender in 2012, and Organizing for Action often focus exclusively on political activity despite the social welfare label. This abuse of 501(c)(4) status allows them to hide their donors, and provides a gigantic loophole for corporations seeking to avoid transparency.

To solve this problem, I have introduced the Openness in Political Expenditures Now (OPEN) Act of 2013.

The OPEN Act:

  • Requires corporations and unions to disclose information on any significant political expenditure as part of their regular, periodic reports to their shareholders or members.

  • Caps the amount of political spending a 501(c)(4) can engage in and still be considered an exclusively social welfare-focused organization at 10% of its annual spending or $10 million annually, whichever is lower.

Please join me in supporting greater transparency and accountability for both corporations and unions. For more information, or to become a cosponsor, please contact Mae Stevens in my office at x-55546 or Mae.Stevens@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

Matt Cartwright

Member of Congress