The campaign to have the SEC regulate corporate political activity was a partisan boondoggle from start to finish. Hundreds of thousands of form letters urging the SEC to regulate corporate political spending, most raging about the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, were ginned up by liberal advocacy groups. Democratic lawmakers pressured the SEC to regulate. The reason was simple – many Democrats believe that such regulation would harm their political opposition. Frustrated by the Federal Election Commission’s bipartisan requirement for adopting regulations and congressional inaction, many partisans thought that they could pressure the SEC, with its 3-2 Democratic majority, to adopt rules on a partisan basis.
The proposed regulatory mission was one for which the SEC is ill suited, a distraction from its work regulating capital markets and protecting investors, and would have required the agency to butcher its longstanding and important standards of materiality. The SEC’s professional staff was purportedly aghast at the thought of being dragged into political regulation, especially after seeing the IRS engulfed in scandal by its regulations on political activity.
SEC Chair Mary Jo White deserves kudos for refusing to let the agency be yanked into this fiasco. ...
Credit where credit is due.