Group asks court to compel disclosure of corporate cash in politics

An advocacy group is asking the nation’s second most powerful court to force action from the Obama administration on political spending by corporations.

A petition filed by the Campaign for Accountability (CfA) on behalf of Stephen Silberstein seeks to have the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) propose a rule that would require corporations to disclosure their political spending.

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“With billions of dollars flowing into the presidential election, shareholders deserve to know how the companies they own are spending corporate funds,” CfA executive director Anne Weismann said in a statement.

“Despite overwhelming public support, the SEC has refused to shed a light on how much money corporations have contributed to ‘dark money’ groups and other political organizations.”

The petition stems from a lawsuit that Silberstein, an activist investor and Aetna Inc. shareholder, brought against the SEC in May, challenging the agency’s refusal to grant the rulemaking petition he had filed in 2014.

Silberstein argued that the SEC had violated the Administrative Procedures Act, but a federal judge in Washington disagreed last month and granted the SEC’s motion to dismiss the case.

CfA is now asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to compel the SEC to take all steps necessary to propose a corporate disclosure rule within 30 days of the court’s decision.

Though language in the government spending bill passed last year bars the SEC from finalizing, issuing or implementing a disclosure rule, CfA argues that it does not stop the agency from discussing, investigating, planning or developing a draft proposal.