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Shareholders Forced Political Spending

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When we make an investment by buying shares in a corporation are we endorsing the political goals of corporate CEO's or other corporate executives? For most American citizens, the answer is clearly "NO!"

The recent Supreme Court ruling stating that corporations have the right to spend the shareholders' money to influence federal elections seems designed to trample on the property rights of individual shareholders, empower the international corporate executive class and distort the electoral process in favor of the pro-corporate Republican Party. It completely fails to protect the property rights of shareholders against politically-motivated abuse by corporate executives.

While the ruling was both bad law and bad for American democracy, as most commentators have stated publicly, few editorialists or pundits have examined how badly the ruling tramples on the property rights of shareholders. I might want to buy shares to fund my retirement or meet unexpected future financial demands. I want my money used in the core missions and functions of the business. I did not invest my money to have it misused by corporate executives to fund their political goals or agenda instead of mine.

Why did this radically activist Supreme Court empower corporate executives to use my money for politics instead of for the legitimate business purposes that are the reasons shareholders bought shares in the first place?

Every member of Congress should support a new federal law that would require all shareholders agree before any corporate money can be spent to influence elections. This does not violate the premise of the Supreme Court ruling that states (incorrectly in my opinion) that corporations have the right to spend corporate funds on elections. Such a law would not require a Constitutional Amendment.

Shareholders should never be forced to make a political contribution to a candidate or campaign that the individual shareholder does not support. These forced contributions are unjust. In fact, corporate executives who spend corporate funds on influencing elections are frankly stealing from the shareholders.

Even before the new federal law is passed, shareholders should consider suing any corporate executives who misuse corporate funds to influence election outcomes directly or indirectly. The lawsuits should seek both to injunction the corporation from using shareholders money without universal approval from all shareholders and to fire the corporate executive involved "with cause" so that any "golden parachute" provisions (where more shareholder money gets stolen by executives) might get blocked.

Any officeholder who fails to support a new federal law restricting corporate executive power and empowering individual shareholders to veto spending corporate money on elections is helping in the politically-motivated theft of shareholder property! We need to identify these officeholders regardless of political party and vote them out of office. They are corrupt!

While corporations are not people, shareholders and corporate executives are people. The corporate executives should not overrule shareholders when it comes to political spending of corporate funds. The corporate executives work for the shareholders and never should be legally permitted to forget this basic fact.

Written by: Stephen Crockett (Host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com ). Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Phone: 443-907-2367. Email: midsouthcm@aol.com.

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Stephen Crockett is co-host of Democratic Talk Radio and author of the Democratic Voices opinion column.

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