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Investors Ask 82 Companies to Stop Funding Voter Suppression

June 17, 2021, 1:00 PM

A group of state treasurers, public pension plans and foundations called on the boards of Facebook Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and other companies to halt donations to elected officials who backed voter suppression efforts or voted against the certification of the 2020 Presidential election.

The group, which includes California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the Rhode Island State Treasury, Wednesday sent a letter to the boards of more than 80 companies, which included major banks, retailers, and technology companies, such as Citigroup Inc., Walmart Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

The coalition called on companies to change their policies to ban contributions to candidates or campaign committees that have supported efforts to restrict voting rights or otherwise limit the civil rights of people of color, according to a statement released Thursday. The group, organized by Majority Action, a non-profit shareholder advocacy group, and Service Employees International Union, also asked its targets to publicly disclose all political donations.

“As a state treasurer, I am fully invested in seeing all citizens exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said Henry Beck, Maine’s treasurer. “I support these letters because an attack on our democracy is a substantial and systemic risk to investors’ portfolios.”

After the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol in January, many companies said they would end or pause political contributions, either entirely or to politicians that voted against the certification of the presidential election. Earlier this month, JPMorgan Chase & Co. resumed political giving, but said it still won’t donate to lawmakers who voted against certifying the U.S. election.

Citigroup said it will decide on a case-by-case basis whether lawmakers -- including those who objected to the verification of the 2020 election -- meet its criteria, which include integrity and support for democratic institutions.

“The time for half measures is over,” said Eli Kasargod-Staub, co-founder of Majority Action. “Systemic racism creates material specific risks for long-term shareholders.”

To contact the reporter on this story:
Saijel Kishan in New York at skishan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Tim Quinson at tquinson@bloomberg.net

Rebecca Greenfield

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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