Signature needed: Tell Vanguard to fight corporate big money politics

CREDO action
Tell Vanguard: Fight corporate big money politics

Petition to Vanguard:
"Change your proxy voting guidelines to always vote in favor of political spending disclosure. Stand with the millions of Americans who trust you to manage their retirement savings against the corrupting influence of special interests and big money politics."

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Dear 5849376,

Tell Vanguard: Fight corporate big money politics

Ever since Citizens United, a flood of secret corporate money is flooding our elections, hijacking our democracy, and undermining our nation. Giant corporations – from big oil and big pharma to defense contractors and more – can get away with spending nearly unlimited amounts without voters, customers, or shareholders ever knowing.1

These companies use their deep pockets to rig the system, blocking efforts to fight climate change, lower drug prices, and build a more progressive nation.

Shareholders are fighting back by putting forth resolutions demanding that companies disclose their political spending. But for too long, major mutual funds like Vanguard, which have sway over big companies because they manage millions of our retirement dollars, have sided with corporate management by refusing to support these resolutions.2

That is why we are joining the growing pressure on Vanguard to start supporting resolutions to fight the corrupting influence of big money.3

Tell Vanguard: Fight corporate big money politics. Click here to sign to the petition.

Vanguard is one of the "big three" mutual funds, and the largest manager of defined contribution retirement plans like 401(k)'s.4,5 Huge numbers of Americans have savings with Vanguard – possibly including you, or someone you know. The massive amount of money invested by such firms powers stock exchanges and keeps big corporations afloat, and those corporations are using their profits to hijack our democracy. Our retirement dollars are being funneled into big money special interest politics that only cause more economic pain.

As a major shareholder in the biggest corporations, Vanguard has tremendous influence over corporate policy. But so far, it has only helped corporations hide their political spending. In the past few years, shareholders have proposed dozens of shareholder resolutions against big money. If passed, these resolutions would require companies to disclose the money they spend to tilt the scales of our democracy. In almost every case, Vanguard has either abstained or voted against these proposals, refusing to use its proxy votes to stand up to big money.6

Today, there is new momentum that could force Vanguard to change its policies. More than 75 percent of Americans favor political disclosure.7 A growing number of Vanguard's competitors have announced that they will used their market power to support efforts to fight secret corporate spending.8 Shareholders are rightly pointing out that they deserve to know if companies are spending big money to influence our politicians, because doing so could cause damage to their reputation and hurt their bottom line.9 The time is right to demand Vanguard start sticking up for ordinary Americans and investors.

Tell Vanguard: Fight corporate big money politics. Click here to sign to the petition.

If we can get Vanguard off the sidelines by raising pressure right now, it could be a tipping point for the whole mutual fund industry. Vanguard is not the only major mutual fund, but as one of the largest and most prominent, a switch to supporting political spending disclosure would send a message far and wide.

Targeting mutual funds is not the only way to fight Citizens United and big money in politics. Democrats in Congress have proposed legislative fixes to mandate disclosure. The Securities and Exchange Commission dragged its heels on requiring disclosure, giving Republicans in Congress time to pass a bill blocking it from acting.10 We here at CREDO Action will continue fighting against the corrupting influence of big money wherever we can – and right now, that means pressuring Vanguard.

Tell Vanguard: Fight corporate big money politics. Click below to sign the petition:

Thank you for speaking out,

Murshed Zaheed, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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  1. Liz Kennedy, "Top 5 Ways Citizens United Harms Democracy,", January 21, 2015.
  2. Bruce F. Freed, "Corporate Political Spending and the Mutual Fund Vote," Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, December 9, 2013.
  3. U.S. PIRG, "59,000 Petitions Urge Vanguard to Support Political Spending Disclosure,", January 19, 2016.
  4. Robert Steyer, "Vanguard widens lead over Fidelity in managing retirement assets," InvestmentNews, May 21, 2015.
  5. Freed, "Corporate Political Spending and the Mutual Fund Vote."
  6. Ibid.
  7. Eleanor Bloxham, "Corporate Political Donations and Lobbying Are Still Trapped in a Murky, Dark Cloud," Fortune, March 7, 2016.
  8. Freed, "Corporate Political Spending and the Mutual Fund Vote."
  9. Bloxham, "Corporate Political Donations and Lobbying Are Still Trapped in a Murky, Dark Cloud."
  10. Ibid.

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