Waters second-guesses SEC agenda

A top House Democrat is second-guessing the priorities of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, said Tuesday she was “disappointed” at the SEC’s list of priority projects it released in November. She said there were several important rulemaking initiatives that did not make the cut, and should be worked on over the next 12 months.

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At the top of that list is a proposal to require publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending habits. That project, launched in 2011, had been highly contentious, particularly after the Citizens United ruling opened the doors to an unlimited amount of corporate campaign spending.

The SEC said it was working on writing rules requiring such a disclosure last year, but it was not included on its 2014 regulatory agenda. Waters pushed the SEC to force that spending into the public eye, as a number of liberal groups have criticize its exclusion from the workload.

“In the aftermath of the Citizens United decision, the SEC’s political spending rule is critical to ensure there is accountability for those corporations contributing untold amounts into political campaigns.  It must proceed without further delay,” she said.

Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, also criticized the SEC for cutting the project from their agenda. In his own statement Tuesday, Trumka said companies should have to play by the same rules as unions.

“Without transparency, there is a danger that executives will spend money in ways that do not benefit investors,” he said.

Waters also pushed the SEC to continue working on rules pertaining to “proxy access.” Such a rule would make it easier for shareholders to exert more control over a company’s board of directors.

However, a previous SEC attempt to write such rules were struck down in court, after business groups sued to challenge it in 2011.

Waters also criticized the SEC for not including on its agenda rules implementing a Dodd-Frank provision requiring public companies to disclose any payments they make to governments to obtain oil, gas and mining resources.