American Water Works – Political Spending (2018)
Resolved, that the shareholders of American Water Works Co. (“the Company”) hereby request that the Company provide a report, updated semiannually, disclosing the Company’s:
1. Policies and procedures for making, with corporate funds or assets, contributions and expenditures (direct or indirect) to (a) participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, or (b) influence the general public, or any segment thereof, with respect to an election or referendum.
2. Monetary and non-monetary contributions and expenditures (direct and indirect) used in the manner described in section 1 above, including:
a. The identity of the recipient as well as the amount paid to each; and
b. The title(s) of the person(s) in the Company responsible for decision-making.
The report shall be presented to the board of directors or relevant board committee and posted on the Company’s website within 12 months from the date of the annual meeting.
As long-term shareholders of American Water Works, we support transparency and accountability in corporate political spending. This includes any activity considered intervention in a political campaign under the Internal Revenue Code, such as direct and indirect contributions to political candidates, parties, or organizations, and independent expenditures or electioneering communications on behalf of federal, state, or local candidates.
Disclosure is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders. The Supreme Court recognized this in its 2010 Citizens United decision: “[D]isclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”
Publicly available records indicate the Company has contributed over $500,000 in corporate funds since the 2010 election cycle. (CQ: http://moneyline.cq.com and National Institute on Money in State Politics: http://www.followthemoney.org)
However, relying on publicly available data does not provide a complete picture of the Company’s election-related spending. For example, the Company’s payments to trade associations that may be used for election-related activities are undisclosed and unknown. This proposal asks the Company to disclose all of its political spending, including payments to trade associations and other tax-exempt organizations, which may be used for political purposes. This would bring our Company in line with a growing number of leading companies, including PG&E Corp. and Sempra Energy, which present this information on their websites.
The Company’s Board and shareholders need comprehensive disclosure to fully evaluate the political use of corporate assets. We urge your support for this critical governance reform.