BlackRock Inc., Vanguard Group Inc. and Fidelity Investments are being drawn into a fight over political spending with a top Securities and Exchange Commission official rebuking the fund managers for failing to push corporations to disclose their campaign contributions.
As managers of trillions of dollars, BlackRock, Vanguard and Fidelity are among the biggest investors in almost every U.S. company. That arguably gives them unparalleled clout to influence the outcomes of shareholder elections.
SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson Jr., who holds a Democratic seat at the agency, said his office studied 15 years of data to assess how the money managers have utilized that power on hundreds of proposals targeting money in politics. He found that BlackRock, Vanguard and Fidelity have consistently opposed shareholder resolutions that would force companies to disclose how much they contribute to special-interest groups. Jackson released his findings Monday in a letter to Democratic lawmakers.
BlackRock, Vanguard and Fidelity are voting “to keep corporate political spending in the dark,” Jackson, a political independent, wrote in a Nov. 18 letter to Representative Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat. “For the largest institutions, there is virtually no variance by company or over time.”