Spending bill blocks SEC political disclosure rule

Spending bill blocks SEC political disclosure rule
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The government funding bill released early Wednesday includes language that bars the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from forcing publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending.

“None of the funds made available by any division of this act shall be used by the SEC to finalize, issue or implement any rule, regulation or order regarding the disclosure of political contributions, contributions to tax exempt organizations or dues paid to trade associations,” the bill says.

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Advocates of financial reform have been pushing the agency to issue a formal rule since the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which opened the floodgates on unlimited and unchecked corporate spending on political communication and campaign advertisements.

The SEC has reportedly received more than 1.2 million public comments in favor of political spending disclosures.

In a statement Wednesday, Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, said riders on campaign finance that undermine an executive action the administration could and should take to improve disclosure are not appropriate for a spending bill.

“With the inclusion of the SEC rider, they will be halting the most requested rulemaking in the agency’s history and simultaneously short-circuiting one of our best chances for public disclosure of corporate political spending since the Citizens United,” she said. “These riders must be removed for the package to continue.”

Congress is expected to vote on the spending bill on Friday.