Survey of Mutual Fund Support for Corporate Political Disclosure

Bruce F. Freed is president and a founder of the Center for Political Accountability. This post is based on the CPA’s Annual Mutual Fund Survey; the full report is available here.

The Center for Political Accountability released on December 10, 2012 its annual survey of mutual fund support for corporate political disclosure. The analysis, which is available on CPA’s website, reviewed how 40 of the largest mutual fund families voted on shareholder resolutions that asked for disclosure of political spending based on the CPA model.

The review’s key findings include the following:

  • In the 2012 proxy season, 40 of the largest mutual fund families supported, on average, 34 percent of the 29 CPA-model shareholder resolutions for corporate political disclosure. They abstained on 12 percent and opposed 54 percent.
  • Average mutual fund support in 2012 decreased slightly from 2011’s record 35 percent average support.
  • Four fund families — Morgan Stanley, MFS, DWS Investment and Wells Fargo — supported disclosure of corporate political spending more than 80 percent of the time.
  • Thirteen of the 40 fund families supported at least 50 percent of corporate political disclosure resolutions in 2012.
  • AllianceBernstein and DWS Investments showed the largest increases in support between the 2011 and 2012 proxy seasons. AllianceBernstein supported disclosure of political contributions 90 percent of the time — the highest support by a large US mutual fund — in 2012, compared with supporting just 5 percent in 2011. DWS Investments supported 83 percent of all disclosure resolutions in 2012, compared with no support in the previous year.
  • While abstentions have decreased overall, two fund groups, Fidelity and Pioneer, abstained on all corporate political disclosure resolutions that they voted on in the 2012 proxy season. In previous years Vanguard had also abstained on all such resolutions, but in the 2012 proxy season cast votes ‘against’ five of the 29 resolutions.
  • Of the 30 fund groups that supported any corporate political disclosure resolution in either the 2011 or 2012 proxy season, average support declined at 20 funds but increased at 10 funds between the two years.
  • Two fund groups, Dodge & Cox and Vanguard, have never supported any of the 250 CPA-model political contribution resolutions that have come to vote in the nine-year survey.

CPA’s review of mutual fund votes presents a nine-year look at how 40 of the largest mutual fund families voted on 250 shareholder requests for disclosure of corporate political contributions at U.S. companies. Together, these fund families manage around $2.7 trillion in U.S. securities, according to Morningstar® fund data.

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2 Trackbacks

  1. […] Bruce Freed blogs. This entry was posted in campaign finance. Bookmark the permalink. ← “Exclusive: Nonprofit Funneled Money to Kochs’ Voter Database Effort, Other Conservative Groups” […]

  2. […] Working with Jackie Cook, the Center for Political Accountability released its Corporate Political Spending and Mutual Fund Vote: 2012 Proxy Season Analysis, which reviewed how 40 of the largest mutual fund families voted on shareholder resolutions that asked for disclosure of political spending based on the CPA model. Bruce Freed published a summary on the Harvard corporate governance blog Survey of Mutual Fund Support for Corporate Political Disclosure. […]

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