Disclose Corporate Political Activity
Fossil fuel companies exert a great deal of influence over climate and energy policy at the federal, state, local and international levels – yet much of this influence occurs behind closed doors. Big corporations like ExxonMobil and Chevron can get away with spending nearly unlimited amounts lobbying for policies that benefit them at the expense of the public and the planet without voters, customers, or shareholders even knowing.
Weak disclosure requirements restrict the amount of information that is publicly available about companies' political activities, especially when it comes to their payments to third-party groups that lobby for harmful policies on their behalf. This allows Big Oil companies to maintain rosy public images while blocking climate action behind the scenes.
For example, ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, and Shell were lauded last year for committing to "advocate sound policy and regulations on methane" when they signed on to a set of guiding principles designed to curb methane emissions. At the same time, the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association led and funded by those same companies, is lobbying for the EPA to weaken methane rules.
Shareholders are fighting back against deceptive lobbying practices by putting forth resolutions demanding that companies disclose their political spending. However, major mutual funds like Vanguard, BlackRock, and Fidelity, which have sway over big companies because they manage millions of our retirement dollars, allow fossil fuel companies to continue hiding behind industry groups and third-party lobbyists by refusing to support these resolutions.
Last year, Chevron and ExxonMobil shareholders voted on resolutions to require stronger lobbying disclosure, winning 31 and 26 percent of the vote, respectively – even without the support of large mutual funds. With shareholders like Fidelity, Vanguard, and Blackrock supporting proposals like these, we could win.
There is growing pressure on mutual funds to support resolutions to fight dark money in politics.
Tell Your Mutual Fund: Demand that Companies Disclose Political Spending