SEATTLE – Investor Voice, representing shareholders of Newground Social Investment, reached an agreement with Ameriprise Financial, Inc. (ticker: AMP) that significantly expands transparency of the company’s election-related spending.
For the first time, Ameriprise has agreed to robust disclosure of payments made to trade associations and secretive “social welfare” organizations, also known as 501(c)(4) groups – payments that might be used for election-related purposes.
“This is an accountability win for shareholders concerned about the corrosive effect of ‘dark money’ in politics”, said Bruce Herbert, Chief Executive of Investor Voice. “Given the increasing need for transparency in our electoral system, Ameriprise has taken an important step by committing to very high standards of disclosure”. Investor Voice filed a shareholder proposal last fall that urged the company to embrace disclosure and transparency, and worked in partnership with the Office of the New York State Comptroller and the Center for Political Accountability (CPA) to emphasize to the company the importance of taking these steps.
In the agreement Ameriprise will instruct trade associations, 501(c)4’s, 527’s and other entities that “the Company is making the payment on the condition that no portion of it will be used in connection with making a contribution or expenditure to benefit a federal, state, or local candidate, candidate campaign, political party, political committee or other political organization”.
“Investors want to know that when portfolio companies spend corporate funds on political causes, those expenditures seek to advance legitimate corporate interests. There's an inherent risk in corporate political spending that increases when it takes place under cover of darkness,” said Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller. “I commend Ameriprise for agreeing to significantly increase disclosure of its political spending and for its responsiveness to shareholders’ concerns. My thanks to Newground Social Investment and Investor Voice for their work on this important issue”.
“Ameriprise’s commitment to disclose these potential sources of ‘dark money’ will likely put the company in the top tier of companies ranked on the CPA-Zicklin Index” said CPA President Bruce Freed. “This agreement is yet another example of how corporate political disclosure and accountability has become the norm. It’s also another example of Investor Voice’s leadership on this very important issue. We expect more companies to follow Ameriprise’s lead and voluntarily disclose these otherwise untraceable contributions.”
Investor Voice is dedicated to continuing efforts that expand transparency and accountability in corporate political spending.
- Press Release: Ameriprise Embraces Broader Disclosure of Political Spending (PDF)
- Agreement letter between Ameriprise to Investor Voice (PDF)
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[Image credit: Flickr user pictures-of-money (CC BY 2.0)]