The Council of Institutional Investors (CII) and ISS have launched a website called protectshareholders.org, which launches a ‘contact your senator’ box, urging visitors to ask them vote against HR 4015, the Corporate Governance Reform and Transparency Act – the successor to the Financial CHOICE Act – that is currently with the Senate Finance Committee.
But opposition to HR 4015 is not the site’s only purpose. “Our goal is simple,” the site says: “to correct the record, reveal the mistruths and double-speak of the lobbying groups trying to mislead lawmakers, and to protect important corporate accountability measures achieved over the last 30 years.”
More simply, on its ‘Myth vs. Fact’ page, the site attempts to correct some of the myths it claims have been promulgated by those who oppose proxy advisors. Most of these will be familiar to those who follow this issue.
For example, if you hover your cursor over the myth ‘proxy advisors provide one-size fits all advice’, you are presented with the fact that firms are “hired to provide data, research and analysis, and vote recommendations – specific to clients’ proxy voting policy positions – so that the clients can implement their own proxy voting and corporate governance philosophies”.Protect the Voice of Shareholders was developed and is managed through ISS funding, and the proxy advisor is responsible for the site’s content, with the CII providing input and consent rights.
The site quotes individual supporters of shareholder rights, such as SEC commissioner Robert Jackson, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and governance specialist Nell Minow; and is supported by 55 institutional shareholders and their representatives, listed here, including Ceres, CalSTRS, ICCR, CtW, As You Sow and Florida SBA. A poll the site is running says that 61% of voters oppose HR 4015, and 63% agree that management should not screen or influence proxy research and voting recommendations – the ‘first look’ that is envisioned by HR 4015.
This article was corrected to state that Thomas DiNapoli is Comptroller of New York State, not New York City.