VEA Vice-Chair Nell Minow interviewed Morris Pearl from the Patriotic Millionaires about money and politics for the Huffington Post.
What is the most effective way for institutional investors to play a role in insisting on more accountability and transparency in corporate political contributions?
Investment Managers do what their clients want them to do. Just like there are funds for investors who don’t want to invest in companies selling weapons or alcoholic beverages or tobacco or gambling, etc. if there is demand, there could be funds that invest in only companies that don’t engage in political spending or that meet our standard for transparency.
How can the customers of investment funds find out whether their money managers are protecting their interest in voting proxies?
You can see how the fund manager actually voted by looking at the SEC filings. And most fund managers actually have their voting records on their own websites too, sometimes in an easier to search form.Whether or not those votes are actually doing any good in protecting the investors’ interests is a harder question. I believe that beyond the actual effect of the vote, that company management does pay attention to shareholder votes, and if there are a large number of shareholders voting for something, I expect that that will, in many cases, affect the behavior of the company managers.