Comcast Does So Much Lobbying That It Says Disclosing It All Is Too Hard (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast may be harming its reputation by failing to reveal all of its lobbying activities, including its involvement in trade associations and lobbying at the state level, a group of shareholders says in a proposal that asks for more lobbying disclosures. Comcast’s disclosures for its lobbying of state governments “are often cursory or non-existent,” and Comcast’s failure to disclose its involvement in trade associations means that “investors have neither an accurate picture of the company’s total lobbying expenditures nor an understanding of its priorities, interests, or potential risks from memberships,” the proposal said. “Comcast’s lack of transparency around its lobbying poses risks to its already troubled reputation, which is concerning in a highly regulated industry, especially given the rise of public Internet alternatives.”

The proposal is on the ballot for Comcast’s June 5 annual shareholder meeting and was filed by Friends Fiduciary, which “invest[s] based on Quaker values” and says it “actively screen[s] companies for social responsibility.” Friends Fiduciary and other investors who joined the proposal collectively hold “over 1 million shares of Comcast stock,” they said. The shareholder resolution would be non-binding even if it passed. It asks for an annual report disclosing, among other things, “Payments by Comcast used for (a) direct or indirect lobbying or (b) grassroots lobbying communications” and information on “Comcast’s membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.” Comcast’s board unanimously recommended that shareholders vote against the Friends Fiduciary resolution, saying that Comcast “already disclose[s] most of our government lobbying interactions” as required by law. “[O]ur Board believes that the requirements in this proposal are burdensome and an unproductive use of our resources and are not in the best interests of our shareholders,” Comcast said in a rebuttal included in its proxy statement.

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