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Press Release: General Electric Embraces Broader Disclosure of Political Spending – Dialogue Spurred by Shareholder Engagement

SEATTLE – Representing shareholders of Newground Social Investment, Investor Voice, in partnership with the Office of the New York State Comptroller and the Center for Political Accountability (CPA), reached an agreement with General Electric (GE) that significantly expands transparency of the company’s election-related spending.

For the first time, GE 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.  Investor Voice filed a shareholder proposal in September that urged the company to embrace greater transparency by disclosing such payments.

“This is an accountability win for shareholders concerned about the corrosive effect of 'dark money' in politics,” said Bruce Herbert, Chief Executive of Newground Social Investment.  “Given the increasing importance of transparency in politics, GE has taken an important step by committing to the highest standards of disclosure.”

The agreement stipulates that GE will publicly disclose the non-deductible portion of its annual payments to any trade association that receives dues and other payments totaling $50,000 or more from GE in a year.  GE will disclose semi-annually all contributions to entities organized under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.

“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.  I commend GE 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” said Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller.

“GE’s commitment to disclose these potential sources of ‘dark money’ will put the company among the nation’s leaders for corporate political disclosure and accountability” said CPA President Bruce Freed.  “This agreement is yet another example of how corporate political disclosure has become the norm.  We expect more companies to follow GE’s lead and voluntarily disclose these otherwise untraceable contributions.”

Investor Voice is dedicated to continuing efforts to expand transparency and accountability in corporate political spending.