Sunday, May 9, 2010

Public Advocate Bill De Blasio Calls on Goldman Sachs to Disclose Political Spending

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio today called on Goldman Sachs to pass a shareholder’s resolution requiring full disclosure of all money Goldman spends in elections and on lobbyists. At a press conference with elected officials and advocates immediately before Goldman’s annual shareholders meeting, Public Advocate de Blasio presented petitions signed by hundreds of New Yorkers demanding that financial institutions, including Goldman, disclose all their political spending.

This year the Supreme Court gave corporations the ability to spend without limit or restraint in our elections. With crucial financial reforms being debated in Congress right now, shareholders, consumers, and citizens deserve a new level of openness and accountability from the banking industry. Goldman Sachs has made some progress but today they have an opportunity to commit to an even greater level of reform and transparency.”

"In this era of unlimited corporate spending and influence peddling, we need complete disclosure," said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Public Advocate de Blasio is a member of the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS), the largest pension fund in New York City. At the close of the last fiscal year NYCERS had $98,714,619 invested in Goldman Sachs.

In response to calls for disclosure, Goldman Sachs last year Goldman Sachs adopted a policy that it will not make corporate political contributions, including to so-called 527 organizations. However, the Company does not disclose its political spending through trade associations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, and other tax-exempt groups, and has not amended its policy to clearly state that the company would not take advantage of the Citizens United decision. At its annual meeting on Friday, the Company will be considering a resolution sponsored by Domini Social Investments, which would clarify the policy, mandating semi-annual disclosure of political contributions including contributions to trade associations.

This year the financial industry has already spent over $120 million on lobbying and has made close to $30 million in political contributions in this election cycle.