Spectra Energy – Lobbying/Political Spending – 2016
Resolved: That the shareholders of Spectra Energy (“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.
Supporting Statement: As long-term shareholders of Spectra Energy, we support transparency and accountability in corporate spending on political activities. These include any activity considered intervention in a political campaign under the Internal Revenue Code, such as direct and indirect political contributions to candidates, political parties, or political organizations; 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 and critical for compliance with federal ethics laws. Moreover, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision recognized the importance of political spending disclosure for shareholders when it said, “[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.” Gaps in transparency and accountability may expose the Company to reputational and business risks that could threaten long-term shareholder value.
We note that Spectra Energy provides a brief policy statement on political spending on its website. However, this does not include any information regarding to whom the Company gave, either directly or indirectly. Indeed, Spectra Energy placed near the bottom of the 2015 CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Accountability and Disclosure, receiving just 33 points out of 100.
We ask the Company to disclose all of its political spending, including payments to trade associations and other tax exempt organizations used for political purposes. This would bring our Company in line with a growing number of leading companies that support transparency and present this information on their websites, including Schulmberger, Noble Energy and ConocoPhillips. We also note that Spectra lags behind peer companies such as Williams, Phillips 66, Kinder Morgan, and EQT.
The Company’s Board and its shareholders need comprehensive disclosure to be able to fully evaluate the political use of corporate assets. We urge your support for this critical governance reform.