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Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
Assemblymember William Colton
(D-Brooklyn) 47th Assembly District
ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON INTRODUCES THE SHAREHOLDERS UNITED ACT
ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON INTRODUCES THE SHAREHOLDERS UNITED ACT
Assemblyman William Colton (D-47th Assembly District) has introduced A6201 which would give shareholders the ability to regulate the political activities of corporations. Titled the Shareholders United Act, the bill is a modeled on legislation introduced by Maryland State Senator Jamin B. Raskin.
In 2010 The United States Supreme Court opened the gates in allowing corporations and unions the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaign ads and other political tools. By doing this, the Supreme Court gave special interest groups and lobbyists greater power, which only further undermines the influence of the average American voter.
In writing the majority ruling in the decision of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010), Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy invited the idea of creating a shareholder solution to the ruling of the court. The Shareholders United Act would do just that and give power to corporation shareholders to have a greater influence in how corporations conduct their political activities. Justice Kennedy stated that while the government cannot block corporate political spending, corporationsshouldn’t be able to block citizen-shareholders’ money on political campaigns without their consent. By enabling shareholders to hold the authority on how corporations conduct political activities, the issue of the Citizens United ruling can be fixed to some extent, through “corporate democracy.”
The Shareholders United Act would create a sense of transparency between the actions of corporations and shareholders, with regards to political activities, and give shareholders a greater role in how companies operate. Corporate managers currently have the ability to spend millions in partisan campaigns without the knowledge or approval of shareholders. This is dangerous considering that shareholders should be entitled to approve such spending as they are owners of a portion of a company. At the same time, it would limit corporations, whose shares are owned by entities that cannot take political positions, from making political expenditures, essentially ensuring that these entities remain politically objective. Often these entities consist of universities or public pension funds, and through the Shareholders United Act, corporations would have to take into account that these entities are legally unable to take political positions.
By introducing legislation to increase transparencies between corporate political spending and the shareholders, Assemblyman Colton is making a difference in reigning in corporate spending on elections. By doing this, Assemblyman Colton is working to increase the voices of the people of New York.

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