Key Proxy Advisor Recommends Vote Against AT&T Management on Political Contributions DisclosureCPA and Domini Social Investments Applaud RiskMetrics Group for Support of Shareholder Resolution
Washington, D.C. - The Center for Political Accountability (CPA) and Domini Social Investments welcomed the support of RiskMetrics Group (RMG) for Domini's shareholder proposal, which calls on AT&T to publicly disclose and require board oversight of its political contributions.
RMG's recommendation represents an important change. Institutional Shareholder Services, which was acquired by RMG in 2007, had opposed a similar resolution at AT&T for the past three proxy seasons. RMG is a leading proxy voting advisory service and an influential voice on corporate governance. AT&T, one of the largest telecommunications providers in the U.S., will hold its annual meeting on April 25.
"RMG's position reflects a growing recognition among corporate governance experts that robust political disclosure is now standard among leading corporations," said CPA executive director Bruce F. Freed.
Domini filed the political disclosure proposal at AT&T this year for the fourth time. "We applaud RiskMetrics' decision to support political disclosure at AT&T," said Adam Kanzer, Domini's General Counsel and head of shareholder activism. "Shareholders have a right to know how the companies they own are exerting political influence. This information has been kept from investors - and the broader public - for far too long. If Verizon can disclose this information, why can't AT&T?"
Explaining why the resolution "merits shareholder support," RMG's ISS Governance Services said that although "AT&T does provide information regarding its rationale, policies, and oversight mechanisms for corporate political contributions and trade association activities," the company doesn't disclose its political spending.
It pointed out that AT&T was not in line with "a number of companies, including Verizon Communications, [that] have substantially enhanced their political contributions disclosure." Verizon agreed to annually report its political contributions last year after Domini filed shareholder resolutions with the company for three successive years.
RMG's ISS Governance Services also cited AT&T's record as a significant political donor and its controversial involvement in the National Security Agency warrantless wiretapping case as reasons to support wider political disclosure at the company.
"It is in AT&T's best interests to demonstrate to shareholders that its political spending and activity are aboveboard," said Kanzer. "The company and its industry peers have a significant presence on the Hill where they have reportedly been seeking immunity for handing their customers' private information over to the government. We're pleased to have RiskMetrics join us in calling for greater transparency and accountability from this important political actor."
Domini Social Investments is part of a nationwide investor campaign of 26 institutional investors and allied groups to bring transparency and accountability to corporate political spending. Initiated by the CPA in 2004, the campaign so far has reached agreements with 43 large companies (including 27% of the S&P 100) to adopt political disclosure policies.
AT&T shareholders must cast their votes for the political contribution proposal and other resolutions proposed for the company's April 25 annual meeting by Thursday, April 24.
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY
The Center for Political Accountability is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group whose mission is to bring transparency and accountability to corporate political spending. Website: www.politicalaccountability.net
ABOUT DOMINI SOCIAL INVESTMENTS
Domini Social Investments is built on the fundamental belief that the way you invest matters. Domini offers mutual funds that empower investors to pursue their financial goals while making a difference worldwide. Domini works for change on issues ranging from sweatshop labor to climate change. Website: www.domini.com