New Drive to Censor Corporate Speech


The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) today released a white paper entitled, “Silencing Business: How Activists Are Trying to Hijack the Public Policy Debate.” The paper explains the ulterior motives of shareholder activists, unions, pensions funds, and liberal leaning policy groups who are using the guise of disclosure to remove corporations from the public policy conversation.

“A cadre of unions, public pension funds, and activist investors are pursuing actions to selectively burden American public companies from exercising their First Amendment rights to participate in public dialogue.” This white paper discusses the groups and strategy behind efforts to impose new, extensive disclosure burdens solely on public companies and to silence the business community in public discussion.

Bradley Smith, Former Federal Election Commission Chair and Chairman of the CCP says, “It’s really eye-opening to see the level of coordination of these groups, their ability to dupe corporate boards, and their relentless attack on the exercise of First Amendment rights through whatever means necessary.”

Quarterbacked by Bruce Feed, Executive Director of the Center for Political Accountability (CPA), activists search for the path of least resistance to achieve their end goal.  “Having failed through legislative, judicial, and regulatory means, they now seek executive orders and work through the corporate governance process to demand disclosure and then brow beat companies into silence with that very information,” Mr. Smith said.

An examination of their “good corporate governance” campaign reveals that it is nonsensical.  For example, the CPA has stated that more disclosure is needed because political spending “can embarrass companies and create serious risks for shareholders.”   However, the real risk often lies in the very disclosure the activists are seeking, as these same activists and their allies use and sometimes distort the disclosed information to “name and shame” business voices into silence.

Meanwhile more and more proof is released that corporate participation in public policy is good for the bottom line and stock prices, benefiting investors such as retirees living on a fixed income. A recent Strategas Research Partners’ Lobbying Index which tracks the stock market performance of the 50 companies that spend the greatest percentage of their revenue on lobbying—generated an average annual return of 17.4 percent in 2012 and 2013, compared to 6 per cent for the S&P 500.

CCP promotes and defends the First Amendment’s protection of the political rights of speech, assembly, and petition. It is the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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