Vote by Citigroup Shareholders Highlights Disclosure Demand

Washington, DC – Citigroup shareholder votes today on two resolutions aimed at reforming the way the bank does business in Washington, DC, highlight the increased demand nationwide for corporations to disclose details of their political spending, Public Citizen said.

The first resolution asks Citigroup to disclose more information about its lobbying activities. The second asks the company to disclose which of its executives are eligible for bonuses should they leave the bank for high-ranking positions in government. Both resolutions, which were filed by shareholders, address a troubling pattern of influence-peddling by the bank, made worse by the shadow of Citigroup’s 2008 taxpayer bailout.

“Citi’s shareholders are sending a clear message: Accountability matters. The resolutions at Citi speak to the growing trend of shareholders demanding more information about corporate political activity,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of PublicCitizen’s Congress Watch division. “Investors deserve to know if and how companies are spending their money to inappropriately peddle influence in Washington.”

The resolutions received 26 and 28 percent favorable votes, respectively. Although the resolutions didn’t attain a majority, the votes send a strong message to Citi management that investors are interested in these reforms.

These resolutions are a small part of a national trend of shareholders demanding more accountability from company executives when it comes to company political activity and lobbying. Since the US Supreme Court’s Citizens Unitedruling, which gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums to influence elections, more than 500 shareholder resolutions have been filed asking companies for more accountability and greater oversight for political activity. Once again, political spending and lobbying resolutions are the most popular social resolutions filed at companies this year.

The Citigroup resolutions come as pressure continues to be placed on the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue a rule requiring all publicly traded companies to disclose political spending information. In the past month, the agency has been the target of an advertising campaign in Washington, DC’s Union Station (the nearest subway stop to the SEC) urging SEC Chair Mary Jo White to require publicly held companies to disclose political spending. The agency last week received a letter supporting the rule signed by many prominent investors, and today received a similar letter (PDF) from more than 55 organizations and investors. More than 1.2 million public comments have been filed with the agency in support of a disclosure rulemaking.