State Street – Political Contributions Report (2010)
Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn. The company agreed further dialogue with Trillium and the Center for Political Accountability to explore expanded disclosure options.
The shareholders of State Street (“Company”) hereby request that the Company provide a report, updated semi-annually, disclosing the Company’s:
1. Policies and procedures for political contributions and expenditures (both direct and indirect) made with corporate funds.
2. Monetary and non-monetary political contributions and expenditures not deductible under section 162 (e)(1)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code, including but not limited to contributions to or expenditures on behalf of political candidates, political parties, political committees and other political entities organized and operating under 26 USC Sec. 527 of the Internal Revenue Code and any portion of any dues or similar payments made to any tax exempt organization that is used for an expenditure or contribution if made directly by the corporation would not be deductible under section 162 (e)(1)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code. The report shall include the following:
a. An accounting through an itemized report that includes the identity of the recipient as well as the amount paid to each recipient of the Company’s funds that are used for political contributions or expenditures as described above;
b. Identification of the person or persons in the Company who participated in making the decisions to make the political contribution or expenditure; and
The report shall be presented to the board of directors’ audit committee or other relevant oversight committee and posted on the company’s website to reduce costs to shareholders.
Transparency and accountability in corporate spending on political activities is consistent with public policy, in the best interest of the company and its shareholders, and critical for compliance with recent federal ethics legislation. Political activities include direct and indirect political contributions to candidates, political parties or political organizations; independent expenditures; or electioneering communications on behalf of a federal, state or local candidate. Absent a system of accountability, company assets can be used for policy objectives that may be inimical to the long-term interests of and may pose risks to the company and its shareholders.
Relying on publicly available data does not provide a complete picture of the Company’s political expenditures. For example, payments to trade associations used for political activities are undisclosed and unknown. The proposal asks the Company to disclose all of its political contributions, including payments to trade associations and other tax exempt organizations.
The financial crisis highlights the need for this disclosure. Despite widespread calls for comprehensive regulatory reform to prevent another crisis, there has been surprisingly little action by Congress or the Administration. The role of the financial industry and trade associations in the failure to achieve meaningful reform was raised this fall when President Obama and administration officials called on the financial industry to stop lobbying against proposed financial reforms.
The Company’s Board and its shareholders need complete disclosure to be able to fully evaluate the political use of corporate assets. Thus, we urge your support for this critical governance reform.