John C. Coates & Taylor Lincoln, Fulfilling the Promise of Citizens United, Wash. Post, Sept. 6, 2011, Opinion.
Abstract: The Supreme Court’s January 2010 Citizens United decision to permit corporations to spend unlimited sums to influence federal elections was premised on a pair of yet-unfulfilled promises: Corporations would disclose their expenditures, and shareholders would be able to police such spending. The best chance to fulfill those promises may now rest with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC could require disclosure of political spending by public companies and facilitate action by shareholders to sign off on such spending. Contrary to the consensus view, however, SEC action may prove to be a favor to the owners of the affected corporations. Despite reflexive opposition to the disclosure of political spending from many self-appointed business advocates, research we are publishing Wednesday suggests that disclosure of political activity might benefit corporate valuations and, at the least, mandatory disclosure would pose no threat of a detrimental effect.