Memo to Chamber of Commerce: Repeating Lies About Proxy Advisors Won’t Make Them True

I’d almost feel sorry for the Chamber of Commerce if they weren’t using millions of dollars of our money to silence advisory-only shareholder votes on CEO pay and climate change instead of spending it on employees and developing better products. But really it is getting a little sad that after the discrediting of all of their astroturf fake dark money front groups like the late unlamented Main Street Investors Coalition (reminder: not connected to Main Street or investors and not a coalition) and various sock puppets they have come out from behind the mask to make the same fake arguments, this week in a full-page ad in the Washington Post (just the way to reach Main Street investors, or maybe politicians and government), along with a new website and TV ads. Their ridiculous reiteration of skewed, compromised, and downright fake claims has become so frenetic and shrill that it proves nothing but how shaken they are.

Really, this is the best you got? The same tired claims about the conflicts of interest of proxy advisors? Don’t you realize that it only directs attention to far greater conflicts of interest, including your own and the past abuses of proxy votes by fund managers? And that fake study you funded by Spectrum, wow, for all that money you’d think you could come up with a better result than a skewed and statistically invalid and yet still unarguable conclusion that investors want their fund managers to vote proxies for their exclusive benefit. No one is disagreeing with that. We are, however, all too aware that you’ve failed to give a single example of a vote or a recommendation that does not meet that standard.

The massive dark money campaign you mounted here has boomeranged badly. It has led to a Congressional hearing tomorrow on abuse of the notice and comment process with fake letters, like the CEO-sponsored letters purportedly from individual investors that all had the same typo in thee address and ties to that lobbying firm you hired. And it has laid a solid foundation to challenge the proposed rule at the SEC. Should it become final, it will really help the challenge in court.

Over 90 percent of ISS recommendations are to vote with management. If they are influential, Chamber members should be popping champagne corks. What you should do is be grateful to have the support of the proxy advisors and, when you don’t, you should listen to their concerns. That is called a market test; please familiarize yourself with that concept. It will be increasingly important as investors let you know how disgusted they are with your behavior.

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