Cisco Seeks SEC’s OK to Nix Shareholder Vote on Political Giving

June 16, 2021, 8:50 PM

Cisco Systems Inc. asked for the SEC’s permission to exclude a shareholder proposal that would bar the company from making donations to political candidates who denied the November 2020 presidential election results or support voter suppression laws.

The Securities and Exchange Commission posted the no action request to its site on Wednesday.

Cisco said the shareholder petition from Eric F. Nusbaum of Wheelwright Consultants had numerous deficiencies that should exclude it from the company’s 2021 shareholder proxy statement.

Nusbaum failed to submit sufficient proof of holding the minimum requirement of at least either $2,000 worth or 1% of Cisco shares, the company said.

Cisco said another technical violation of SEC rules was Nusbaum’s inclusion of two proxy proposals at once.

Nusbaum’s proposal would direct Cisco to withhold donations “to individual political candidates, political parties, or political action committees that have voted to or advocated the overturning of an election that had been certified by the duly constituted local, state or national electoral officials.”

The proposal also would bar Cisco donations to lawmakers who propose or support “election and voting-related legislation that has not been characterized as unbiased and free by the League of Women Voters.”

Nusbaum didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Cisco, the world’s largest maker of networking equipment, also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Cisco said after the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot that it would freeze future donations to the 147 representatives and senators who “attempted to prevent Congress from fulfilling its constitutional duty to certify a legitimate and fair presidential election.” The company’s political donations are reported to the Federal Election Commission.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia Beyoud in Washington at lbeyoud@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Ferullo at mferullo@bloomberglaw.com; Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com

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