Dark Money: It’s Time for Boards and Institutional Investors to Act on Racial Justice

Bruce Freed of The Center for Political Accountability and Eleanor Bloxham of The Value Alliance have an important op-ed in Barron’s about the long-standing opposition of the Big 3 institutional investors – BlackRock, Vanguard and Fidelity — to shareholder resolutions calling for disclosure of political disclosure and the connection to corporate political spending that has facilitated racial injustice. The op-ed urges them to get on board and cast their proxies for corporate political disclosure.

An excerpt:

Headlines like “Meet the Fortune 500 Companies Funding the Political Resegregation of America” and “These Companies Support Climate Action, So Why Are They Funding Opposition To It?” along with fears of consumer boycotts have forced greater corporate and investor attention to the impacts of corporate election-related spending…

It is no coincidence that in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, corporate political power has risen while the political power of African Americans has declined. 

In just four years following Citizens United, black legislators in the South, where the majority of African Americans live, lost significant power to effect positive change. In 2010, 50.5% of Southern black state legislators had a voice as members of the party in power. Four years later, that had flipped and 95.2% of Southern black state legislators found themselves in the minority. 

The dramatic decline in political voice was accomplished following the 2010 elections by gerrymandering, which some courts have decided were racially motivated. This was (consciously or unconsciously) made possible, in part, by corporate election-related contributions. One influential PAC, whose spending facilitated these gerrymandering efforts, received 62% of its funding ($18.2 million out of $29.5 million) from public companies and trade associations.

Over the last decade, corporate election-related spending to the tune of $1.3 billion has been funneled toward efforts to flip state legislatures and change the outcomes of elections of governors and attorneys general by funding six partisan state focused political committees. 

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