U.S. Senator Tina Smith Joins Elizabeth Warren, Banking Committee Democrats in Pressing SEC Chair to Require Disclosure of Corporate Lobbying Expenditures

Washington, D.C. —  Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D – Minn.), Sherrod Brown  (D-Ohio.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John Fetterman (D-Pa.) signed onto a letter led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.) urging Gary Gensler, Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to create new rules requiring public companies to disclose their spending on lobbying efforts. Public companies are not currently required to report information on the details of their lobbying to the SEC even as corporate lobbying expenditures reach record highs.

“In 2022, total federal lobbying expenditures reached $4.1 billion – the highest since 2010. Amazon and Meta spent almost $20 million each to influence decision-making in Congress and across government agencies, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – which counts companies like JPMorgan Chase, Alphabet, and Chevron among its members – spent $79.4 million,” wrote the senators. “While these figures are staggering, they provide little insight into the interests that companies spend millions each year to advance. This lack of transparency erodes the ability of everyday investors to make informed decisions about where to invest their money – and where their money goes once they have invested.”

Specifically, the senators are requesting that such rules require disclosure of lobbying strategy, the total amount of direct or indirect contributions to registered state and federal lobbyists and any material risks related to or arising from lobbying strategies and expenditures. The senators requested the SEC provide them with details on their plans to develop and issue such rules no later than November 29th, 2023.

“In the absence of strong lobbying disclosure rules, investors are largely kept in the dark regarding the policy campaigns they are indirectly funding. This raises concerns that investors may be funding lobbying activities that are counter to the stated missions of the companies they’ve invested in, that are counter to their own beliefs, or that may even erode the value of their investment,” the senators continued. 

“A company’s lobbying activity is of material importance to its investors, and it is past time for the SEC to require strong disclosure rules to ensure that investors have access to that information,” the senators concluded. 

You can find the full text of the letter here.