The Massachusetts Corporate Political Accountability Act will address the problems created by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC by requiring new levels of disclosure and transparency for corporate political spending, eliminating “pay-to-play” opportunities for state contractors, enshrining new protections for employees, shareholders and investors, and prohibiting foreign corporations from influencing elections in Massachusetts.
Why This Matters: On a 5-4 vote this past January, the Supreme Court struck down bipartisan legislation that had limited corporations from spending their general treasury funds on political advertising during the months preceding an election. In addition to striking down federal legislation, the decision also invalidated provisions of Massachusetts state law, including a provision that had been in place since the beginning of the last century.
Now, for-profit corporations may spend unlimited amounts to influence elections at all levels of government, and corporate lobbyists and other powerful special interests will be able to threaten public officials with the possibility of unending negative campaign ads to advance their agendas.
As President Obama noted in his State of the Union Address, the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC “reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.”
What This Bill Will Do:
- Disclosure & “Stand By Your Ad” Requirements: Requires corporate-sponsored political advertising to abide by the same disclosure laws that apply to other political spending, and require CEO’s to appear in person in the ads their companies pay for to take credit for the ad and inform the public that they “approved this message.”
- Close the Dummy Corporation Loophole: Requires the top 5 contributors to an organization making an independent expenditure to identify themselves in the ads they pay for and bans organizations making independent expenditures from sharing staff with campaigns they are supporting.
- Ban Pay-to-Play Contributions: Ban state contractors or prospective state contractors from making campaign contributions or paying for political advertisements on behalf of any candidates for public office.
- Require Shareholder Approval: Require the approval of a majority of the board of directors for any corporate political spending; require companies that issue stock to get the approval of their shareholders and include data on political spending in annual reports.
- Ban Foreign Corporate Influence: Ban foreign nationals, foreign states, foreign corporations and foreign political parties from influencing Massachusetts elections.