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NH Rebellion Applauds President Obama’s Support for Steps to Fight Big Money in State of the Union Address

Cross-partisan movement calls on president and presidential candidates
to commit to concrete actions that will “fix our politics”

January 2015 NH Rebellion Rally at the State House

January 2015 NH Rebellion Rally at the State House

NH Rebellion Executive Director Dan Weeks today applauded President Barack Obama’s view that “the most important thing” we must do as a county is “fix our politics.”

“In his State of the Union speech last night, President Obama gave voice to what those of us at the grassroots level already know: ‘democracy breaks down when the average person feels that their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some special interest.’  Our country is at that tipping point right now,” Weeks said.  “Poll after poll has found that Americans of all political stripes agree – overwhelmingly – that money has too much influence over our politics.  Unlimited campaign money is corrupting our government, and voters have reason to be angry about that.”

“It was refreshing to hear President Obama address the problem in such a high-visibility way,” Weeks said. “Too many elected officials shy away from talking about it.  And far too many elected officials have actually voted against measures that would help fix the problem.”

As one example, Weeks cited last week’s vote by the New Hampshire House of Representatives against a bill to study proposed constitutional amendments that would help limit the influence of money in politics.  He also noted the US Senate voted in September 2014 against sending a proposed constitutional amendment to the states for consideration.

President Obama endorsed a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling last February.

In last night’s State of the Union speech, President Obama also endorsed other parts of the NH Rebellion agenda: ending gerrymandering and making it easier for citizens to vote, saying “over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms.”

Weeks noted that campaign finance reform advocates have studied the influence of political spending on federal contracting, and are calling for measures to increase transparency.

“This is one area where President Obama could, himself, make a big difference,” Weeks said.

“Congress has been moving away from transparency,” Weeks observed, noting that the federal budget passed last month specifically prohibited the Securities and Exchange Commission from issuing a new rule requiring corporations to disclose their political spending.

“But President Obama could take executive action, and issue an Executive Order requiring at least those corporations that contract with the federal government to disclose their political spending,” Weeks said.

A 2014 Sunlight Foundation study found that “on average, for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 from the government.”

“We the people – taxpayers – are the ones who pay for government contracts,” Weeks said. “We deserve to know how much federal contractors are spending, trying to influence the budget and contracting decisions. We deserve to have transparency in that process.”

“We hope President Obama will follow his State of the Union remarks with concrete action,” Weeks added.  “Congress may be moving in the wrong direction on transparency, but President Obama can issue an Executive Order and help us move a little bit more in the right direction.”

Weeks also called on the candidates for president to take clear positions on the issue.

Members of the Rebellion have been attending campaign events, asking each candidate “What specific reforms will you advance to end the corrupting influence of money in politics?”  Candidates’ answers can be found here.

———-

The New Hampshire Rebellion (#NHRebellion) is a cross-partisan movement of citizens who are Walking the Talk to get big money out of politics — 30,000 miles and counting. We are motivated by one undeniable fact: American government no longer works for the American people because of the corrupting influence of special interest money in elections. Fully 96 percent of citizens agree that money has too much influence in politics, yet 91 percent have little hope that it will change. Our job in 2016 is to restore their hope and harness their energy to make reforming our democratic process possible, starting in New Hampshire.  http://www.nhrebellion.org/

Don’t miss the We the People Convention, February 5, 6 & 7, 2016:  http://www.nhrebellion.org/convention

Open Democracy Report Show How Much Kinder Morgan Has Spent Lobbying To Build NED Pipeline

As NED Pipeline Fight Heats Up, Report Finds Kinder Morgan Spent Millions of Dollars on Lobbying and Political Donations Since 2014

MANCHESTER, NH – Texas-based energy giant Kinder Morgan has spent over $2.5 million in lobbying and campaign donations since 2014, even as it is seeking approval for a controversial new natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire and Massachusetts, according to a new analysis of lobbying and campaign finance records by the nonpartisan organization Open Democracy. 

The analysis finds that Kinder Morgan Inc. and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP began lobbying in New Hampshire and Massachusetts concurrent with the introduction of its Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline proposal in each state. The company spent $53,500 to lobby New Hampshire state government officials in 2014 and an estimated $70,780 in 2015, more than any single public interest, non-profit, or labor organization. 

Fig. 1: Kinder Morgan Lobbying Expenditures in NH and MA since 2011 (2015 data incomplete)  Figure 1

The company also spent $148,500 to lobby Massachusetts officials in 2014 and $301,334 in 2015, prior to year-end disclosures. No lobbying expenditures were reported in New Hampshire prior to 2014 when the proposed pipeline route was changed to include seventeen southern NH towns. Kinder Morgan reported $20,000 and $60,000 in Massachusetts state lobbying in 2012 and 2013, respectively. 

Analysis of federal lobbying expenditures finds several Kinder Morgan companies including Kinder Morgan, Inc., Kinder Morgan Co2, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, and Kinder Morgan Bulk Terminals have engaged in extensive lobbying activities over the last twelve years. Kinder Morgan reported spending $170,000 to-date in 2015, including $110,000 specifically targeted at the NED pipeline proposal which is pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The five-member commission of presidential appointees is expected to approve or reject the proposal next year.

In addition to its reported federal and state lobbying activities in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and other states, Kinder Morgan executives have made significant campaign contributions in recent years, according to the Open Democracy analysis. At least ten Kinder Morgan employees made state and federal campaign contributions totaling more than $3 million in 2014-16. Company Chairman Richard Kinder and his wife Nancy accounted for the bulk of the contributions, giving $2 million to the Right to Rise Super PAC supporting presidential candidate Jeb Bush. 

Texas Senator Ted Cruz received $11,400 in campaign contributions from Kinder Morgan employees to his 2012 Senate campaign and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received a $1,000 contribution in 2015. Former House Speaker John Boehner received $90,200 in campaign contributions. 

Fig. 2: Kinder Morgan Contributions to 2016 Presidential Candidates 

Candidate

Amount

Year

Jeb Bush

$2,205,829

2015

Hillary Clinton

$1,000

2015

Ted Cruz*

$11,400

2012

TOTAL

$2,218,229

 

At the state level, NH Governor Maggie Hassan and MA Governor Charlie Baker received $2,000 and $1,000 in campaign contributions, respectively, from Richard and Nancy Kinder in 2014. 

All told, the analysis found $397,950 in federal and $557,000 in state campaign contributions from Kinder Morgan executives in 2014, and at least $2,211,269 in contributions to 2016 federal campaigns to-date. Analysis of campaign contributions over time finds a total of estimated $5.3 million since 2000, 87 percent of which was given to Republicans (2014-16 partisan contributions breakdown is estimated).

Fig. 3: Kinder Morgan Contributions to State and Federal Candidates and Super PACs, 2000-2015

Year

Total Amount

Republican

Democrat

2000

$329,388

97%

3%

2002

$315,996

99%

1%

2004

$375,562

96%

1%

2006

$126,061

82%

18%

2008

$152,555

63%

36%

2010

$433,849

61%

38%

2012

$389,110

97%

1%

2014

$982,689

92%

3%

2016

$2,211,269

99%

1%

TOTAL

$5,316,479

87%

11%


 

472617b1-f7c4-4930-ab9d-636b2181b5c0

Open Democracy is a Concord, NH-based nonpartisan organization that works for transparent and accountable governance in the Granite State. Learn more at www.OpenDemocracy.me

MA Nurses Association Release New Ad Calling For Hospital Transparency

image002TV and Radio Ads Launched on Hospital CEOs Receiving Excessive Pay and Storing Public Funds in Cayman Islands 

Ads Urge Legislators to Demand Accountability and Transparency 

BOSTON, MA — A TV and radio campaign has been launched to highlight spendthrift hospital CEOs stashing millions of tax dollars in offshore accounts and rewarding themselves with extravagant compensation packages.

The launch of the statewide TV and radio campaign is timed to focus on the end of the legislative session. It urges residents to call their state legislators and demand greater transparency in hospital finances.

The ad shows two hospital CEOs clicking glasses of champagne on a beach in the Cayman Islands and enjoying a lavish taxpayer subsidized lifestyle.

The voiceover describes the billion dollars in profits Massachusetts hospitals enjoy, the millions in tax dollars they receive (more than 50% comes from taxpayer-funded government sources), the exorbitant salaries they pay their CEOs and the refusal by hospitals to disclose how much money they store in the Caymans or how they spend the millions of tax dollars they’re given each year. 

“Taxpayers have the right to know if there tax dollars are paying for patient care or million dollar salaries for hospital CEOs. And legislators making decisions on reimbursement rates for hospitals should insist that hospitals disclose how much money they store in offshore accounts and why hospitals don’t keep those funds in Massachusetts banks where they would benefit the Massachusetts economy.” said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

In response to hospital claims that funds are stored in the Caymans to save patients money, MNA Executive Director Julie Pinkham said “That excuse doesn’t pass the ‘laugh test.’ Surely Massachusetts hospitals that receive millions of our tax dollars could find an institution in our state to store their reserves. And if they have so much excess money that they can pay their CEOs millions and stash funds in the Caymans, then they should stop cutting needed services and start lowering the prices they charge patients.”

The ads are intended to urge legislators to pass the Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act (H3844). The law would require that hospitals receiving tax dollars disclose in a timely and fully transparent manner how large their profit margins are, how much money they hold in offshore accounts, and how much compensation they pay their CEOs. To ensure access to needed services by all patients, the act also provides for enhanced funding options for hospitals serving poorer populations. If the measure does not pass by July 2, the issue will appear as a ballot measure this November.

The ads, sponsored by the Committee for Transparency and Fairness in the Use of Taxpayer Funds by Hospitals, ends with “Tell your legislators to shed some light on how hospital CEOs spend our tax dollars.”

50,000 Massachusetts Residents Call For Hospital Finance Transparency

50,000 Signatures Gathered For Two Ballot Initiatives Ensuring That They Go Before the Voters in November:

Patient Safety and Hospital Finance Transparency
New Poll Finds Strong Support for Both Initiatives by Mass Voters 

Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness ActCANTON, Mass. — The Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today that it has collected and will submit the final round of signatures needed for two ballot initiatives that will dramatically improve patient safety in Massachusetts’ hospitals and ensure that tax dollars for health care are used for patient care not excessive CEO compensation or accounts in the Cayman Islands.

More than 50,000 signatures on both measures were gathered by nurses and supporters from health care, social justice, labor and senior advocacy groups throughout the Commonwealth, who were out in their communities, at special events, shopping centers and local festivals over a four week period. Both initiatives met with wide acceptance by the public. Allowing MNA/NNU to submit well over the 11,000 signatures required by law to place each question on the ballot in November.  Once town clerks certify the signatures, the petitions will be delivered to the Secretary of State for final approval.

“We are thrilled that the public is so receptive to both of these important initiatives. It’s a testament to how important the issues of safe patient limits and hospital financial transparency are to the public,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, President of the MNA/NNU. “Many voters were shocked to learn that there is currently no limit on the number of patients hospitals can assign to a registered nurse at one time. And most voters expressed outrage that hospitals are storing tax dollars in offshore accounts and paying their CEOs excessive compensation, while hospital administrators cut services vital to communities.”

A recent poll of Massachusetts voters on both questions finds strong support for both measures, with nearly 7 in 10 voters (67 percent) supporting the Patient Safety Act and 6 in 10 voters (60 percent) supporting the Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act.

The Patient Safety Act (HB 3843) – Safe Patient Limits Will Save Lives

On Wednesday, June 18, the MNA/NNU will deliver petitions with more than 25,000 signatures to town clerks for certification of the Patient Safety Act, a ballot initiative that will set a safe maximum limit on the number of patients assigned to a nurse, while also providing flexibility to hospitals to adjust nurses’ patient assignments based on the needs of the patients.

Dozens of studies and reports have shown the need to set a maximum limit on the number of patients that can be assigned to each registered nurse if we are to avoid — mistakes, serious complications and preventable readmissions. To view these studies and to learn more about the initiative, visit PatientSafetyAct.com

A recent survey found that nearly 8 in 10 registered nurses (78 percent) in Massachusetts hospitals say that patient care is suffering because hospitals require nurses to care for too many patients at once, and nearly 9 in 10 nurses (88 percent) support the Patient Safety Act.  A survey of physicians in Massachusetts found 6 in 10 doctors (62%) believe hospital care is suffering because of excessive patient loads for nurses, and a majority (58 percent) support the initiative.

The Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act  (HB 3844)

On June 18 the MNA/NNU will also deliver petitions with more than 25,000 signatures to town clerks for certification of the Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act. The law would require that hospitals receiving tax dollars disclose in a timely and fully transparent manner how large their profit margins are, how much money they hold in offshore accounts, and how much compensation they pay their CEOs. To ensure access to needed services by all patients, the act also provides for enhanced funding options for hospitals serving poorer populations.

“Every hospital, receives a substantial amount of money from tax dollars to provide health care for the residents of Massachusetts, yet there is no way for the public and policy makers to know how those taxpayer dollars are allocated,” said Julie Pinkham, RN, Executive Director of MNA/NNU. “Too many hospitals store money in the Cayman Islands or use tax dollars for excessive CEO compensation, while community hospitals that serve predominately poor patients are struggling to survive. The public has a right to know how and where their health care dollars are being spent.”

7 in 10 doctors (72 percent) favor the Transparency Initiative and believe that greater financial transparency will help to protect valuable patient services.

The legislature has until July 2 to act on both initiatives, and if they fail to do so, both measures will appear as a ballot question this November.

Massachusetts Doctor’s Overwhelmingly Agree With The Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act

7 in 10 Doctors Favor Pending Legislation to Call for Greater Transparency of Hospital Finances, Profits and CEO Compensation and Believe it Would Protect Funding for Valuable Patient Care Services

Survey Findings Released as Hospital CEOs Gather for Three Days of Golf, Fine Dining and Networking at the Luxurious Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod

Man Golfing (First Baptist Nashville Flickr)

Man Golfing (First Baptist Nashville Flickr)

CHATHAM, MA – As well-heeled hospital CEOs plan to gather for three days of golf, lavish receptions and networking at one the state’s most luxurious resorts on the Cape, a new survey of the state’s doctors finds that most doctors (58%) have seen these executives cut valuable patient care services in order to increase profits, and 7 in 10 believe  that greater transparency of hospital finances would help protect funding for needed services.

By the same margin, doctors support a bill and ballot measure, HB 3844, The Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act, which requires disclosure of profit margins, executive compensation and money in offshore accounts by hospitals that accept public funding (most hospitals receive more than half their funding from taxpayer subsidies via Medicare and Medicaid and other government sources), and establishes a fund to protect needed services for poorer communities.

Nurses and advocates who support this initiative are gathering the 11,000 signatures needed to place the initiative on the ballot in November.  They have already gathered more than 90,000 signatures back in the fall.  The legislature is in the process of considering a budget that would increase funding for hospitals.  Lawmakers have until July 2 to act on HB 3844, which would ensure they have a complete picture of hospital finances.   An earlier survey of RNs in the state also found that 75 percent of nurses support this measure.

“Hospitals that serve predominantly poor patients are struggling to survive and recently one of them, North Adams Regional Hospital, closed while large hospital corporations are generating enormous profits, paying their CEOs millions and stashing millions more in Cayman Island accounts,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United.  “This initiative will help ensure that taxpayer dollars are used to improve patient care and patient’s access to needed services.”

For example, Partners Health Care posted profits in excess of $350 million last fiscal year, yet attempted to close its medical detox unit at Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital, while also closing a pediatric unit at Cooley Dickinson Hospital over the strong objections of local pediatricians in the community.

The survey of physicians was conducted in late May by Anderson Robbins Research, an independent research firm headquartered in Boston, and included 100 doctors who regularly care for patients in Massachusetts hospitals.  Respondents were randomly selected from a file of all licensed physicians in the state and then screened to identify only physicians who currently practice medicine in a hospital setting.

The Hospital Profit Transparency & Fairness Act (H3844) will guarantee taxpayers the right to know exactly how their health care dollars are spent by hospital administrators. The transparency act requires that hospitals receiving tax subsidies disclose in a timely and fully transparent manner how large their profit margins are, how much money they hold in offshore accounts, and how much compensation they pay their CEOs. To ensure access to needed services by all patients, the act also provides for enhanced funding options for hospitals serving poorer populations.

For more information visit:  www.HospitalTransparencyAct.com.

Massachusetts Nurses Association Highlight MA Hospitals That Are Offshoring Profits From Taxpayer Money

EXPOSED!  Hospitals Stash Millions in Offshore Accounts!

“Fat Cat” CEO Mascot Delivers Beach Towels to Legislators to Highlight Money Hidden in Cayman Islands

Advocates Urge Legislators to pass
“Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act”

Mass Nurses Association
BOSTON, MA — At a State House press conference today, advocates presented lists of over 40 Massachusetts hospitals with money stored in offshore accounts (see list below) and urged legislators to demand greater transparency in hospital finances by passing The Hospital Profit Transparency & Fairness Act (H3844). The initiative petition will require hospitals to report all investments, including the unreported millions stashed in the Cayman Islands.

Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness ActFollowing the press conference, a Hospital CEO mascot dressed in a ‘Fat Cat’ costume delivered Cayman Island beach towels to legislators to highlight the millions hospitals are hiding in the Cayman Islands.

Karen Higgins, critical care nurse at Boston Medical Center, past president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association and Co-President of National Nurses United explained: “Hospitals in Massachusetts receive half their revenues from tax dollars including Medicare, Medicaid, public employee and retiree health insurance, taxpayer funded grants, loans, subsidies and waivers on local, state and federal taxes. This week legislators debate the state budget and decide how many of our tax dollars they will provide to hospital administrators. Yet legislators have NO idea how much money hospitals store in offshore accounts or why hospitals don’t keep their excess reserves in Massachusetts’ banks.”

Higgins continued, “Hospital CEOs in Massachusetts are paid excessive compensation packages that bear no relationship to the quality of care or to patient outcomes like readmission rates, where Massachusetts ranks among the worst in the nation. Legislators and the public have the right to know how their tax dollars are being spent, especially when profitable hospitals are cutting needed services.”

Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) Chair of the Committee on Revenue stated: “The data we’re hearing today is new and also disturbing. We’ve been struggling mightily – and investing millions of taxpayer dollars – to keep healthcare costs in check. Why are our hospitals keeping accounts in the Caymans where they’re hidden from our oversight? Why are these funds not in Massachusetts banks? How much is there? We – taxpayers and legislators – have a right to know about what our hospitals are doing with our tax dollars. More than that, we have a responsibility to know, and the hospitals have a responsibility to tell.”

Rep. Josh Cutler (D – Duxbury) said: “I am deeply troubled to learn that some Massachusetts hospitals are storing funds offshore in the Cayman Islands and not disclosing it. Before we provide these hospitals with public money for reimbursements we should be demanding greater transparency and accountability.”

Alan Sager, Professor of Health Policy and Management and Director of the Health Reform Program at Boston University’s School of Public Health commented on this issue: “Some of the people running hospitals have lost touch with the financial circumstances of ordinary citizens of our state – and with the struggle many people face in affording both high health insurance premiums and soaring co-insurance and deductibles. High CEO salaries are one reason they have lost touch. Another reason is that Massachusetts’ hospital costs are the highest in the world. “The accounts held in the Cayman Islands and other places raise questions. How much money is involved? Why do hospitals park money overseas?  What do they hope to gain? Is it freedom from regulatory oversight or greater flexibility in spending?  If so, why do hospitals want those things?

Joe DiMauro from the Coalition for Social Justice said “This is an outrage! Everyone assumes that non-profit hospitals exist to care for their patients, not to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers via hidden accounts stored in foreign countries where no one can monitor how they are used! Why are hospitals storing money in offshore accounts where neither regulators nor policymakers can evaluate how much excess revenue they have or if they are spending that excess revenue on CEO perks or patient care?”

Nathan Proctor, State Director of Massachusetts Fair Share said: “While it’s unclear why hospitals move money overseas to offshore accounts, the effects are simple enough: We don’t really know how much money they have. Given that taxpayers provide a huge portion of the revenue streams of these hospitals, I think we have a right to know. Given that costs keep going up and up and up, we have a right to know where that money ends up. It’s fair, it’s common-sense. We can’t address rising costs if our biggest medical centers are hiding behind offshore accounts in places like the Cayman Islands.”

The Hospital Profit Transparency & Fairness Act (H3844) will guarantee taxpayers the right to know exactly how their health care dollars are spent by hospital administrators. The transparency act requires that hospitals receiving tax subsidies, disclose in a timely and fully transparent manner how large their profit margins are, how much money they hold in offshore accounts, and how much compensation they pay their CEOs. To ensure access to needed services by all patients, the act also provides for enhanced funding options for hospitals serving poorer populations.

For more information visit:  www.HospitalTransparencyAct.com.


A complete list of Massachusetts hospitals with offshore accounts follows.

Hospitals with Offshore Holdings

MA Hospitals Offshore Tax Haven
Addison Gilbert Hospital (Lahey/Northeast) Cayman Islands
Baystate Medical Center Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Ireland
Baystate Franklin Medical Center Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Ireland
Baystate Mary Lane Hospital Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Ireland
Berkshire Medical Center Cayman Islands
Beth Israel Medical Center – Boston Cayman Islands
Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital- Milton Cayman Islands
Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital- Needham Cayman Islands
Beverly Hospital (Lahey/Northeast) Cayman Islands
Boston Children’s Hospital Cayman Islands
Boston Medical Center Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Canada, Lesotho
Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital Cayman Islands
Brigham & Women’s Hospital Cayman Islands
Cambridge Health Alliance Cayman Islands
Clinton Hospital Cayman Islands
Charlton Memorial Hospital (Southcoast Health) Cayman Islands
Cooley Dickinson Hospital Cayman Islands
Dana Farber Cancer Institute Cayman Islands
Fairview Hospital Cayman Islands
Hallmark Health Cayman Islands
HealthAlliance Hospital Cayman Islands
Jordan Hospital (BID-Plymouth) Cayman Islands
Lahey Clinic Bermuda
Marlborough Hospital Cayman Islands
Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Cayman Islands
Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary Cayman Islands
Massachusetts General Hospital Cayman Islands
Mount Auburn Hospital Cayman Islands
Nantucket Cottage Hospital Cayman Islands
New England Baptist Hospital Cayman Islands
Newton Wellesley Hospital Cayman Islands
North Shore Medical Center Cayman Islands
Northeast Hospital Cayman Islands, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands
Southcoast Health Cayman Islands
St. Luke’s Hospital (Southcoast Health) Cayman Islands
Tobey Hospital (Southcoast Health) Cayman Islands
Tufts Medical Center Cayman Islands
UMass Memorial Medical Center Cayman Islands
Winchester Hospital Cayman Islands
Wing Memorial Hospital Cayman Islands

HospitalTransparencyAct.com

Statement on NH House Democrats & Republicans Decision to Allow Corporate Special Interests to Write State Law Behind Closed Doors

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House voted HB 1207, disclosure of model acts, inexpedient to legislate today. The bill would have simply required model bills to list their origin. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Drafting legislation is the most fundamental act of lobbying, yet New Hampshire has a huge, gaping hole for reporting and disclosure of this lobbying activity. Corporate and other special interests are allowed to write state laws behind closed doors, often without any disclosure or transparency as to who is writing them and why. Knowing who is writing our state laws is an important part of having an open and transparent government. We are disappointed by the House’s decision. Otherwise strong public servants, who rally at length against special interest influence in their campaign speeches, missed a key opportunity to act on those values this week.”

“This law would have applied equally to conservative and liberal groups, to Democrats and Republicans, to partisans and non-partisans. Good government should be a shared democratic value regardless of political party or persuasion, and no one should shy away from identifying who is drafting our state laws and why. We appreciate that the committee that heard this bill agreed, but their recommendation to put this into House rules instead of law means bills originating in the Senate will not have the same disclosure, and House Rules also change with administrations. This policy needs to be law.”

Background on HB 1207:

Right now national cookie-cutter model legislation, designed to promote a particular interest, has no disclosure requirements. This allows special interests to unduly influence laws behind closed doors. In the 2011-2012 session, Granite State Progress identified 30 model bills from one national organization alone, 16 of which became law. Many of the bills had no visible involvement from the entities who designed them meaning, often, legislators and constituents didn’t even know who was originally behind the bill or why – a key part of understanding the intent and potential impact of a policy.

HB 1207 would have simply required bill sponsors to let the Office of Legislative Services know when they were using a model act, and OLS would note that in the bill analysis. To be considered a model act, the legislation has to be national cookie-cutter legislation that is officially voted on and adopted by an organization or corporation, then distributed in more than one state. Home-grown New Hampshire bills would not be impacted. Laws from other states are not formally distributed by those states and, thus, are not considered model acts. Model legislation is not inherently bad, but the special interests promoting it – regardless of political persuasion – should be disclosed as part of an open and transparent legislative process. Granite State Progress supported having this disclosure on all model legislation to lessen the corruption of our legislative process.

 

Bill Text: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2014/HB1207.html

 

Congress and Labor Call For Transparency From Corporations

SEC shield

The Securities and Exchange Commission came under fire yesterday from organized labor and members of Congress.  Both took aim at what corporations are not telling the public.

New Hampshire Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, along with 32 other Congressmen, sent a letter to Mary Jo White, the Chairman of the SEC. (Click here to view the full letter.)  The letter calls for new SEC rule-making for publicly traded companies to disclose CEO pay and the ratio between CEO’s and their average employee.

Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve watched American workers become more productive than ever, only to see wages remain largely stagnant. Over those same decades, CEO pay has gone through the roof, rising from 42 times the average pay of workers in 1980 to 354 times that of the average worker today,” Shea-Porter said. “In 2012, the CEO of J.C. Penney (JCP) made 1,795 times that of the average JCP employee. It’s time for publicly traded companies to report on this disparity.”

The letter notes that it is important for investors to know the salaries of chief executives at publicly traded corporations. At the same time, it is essential that these salaries be contextualized through comparison with the median employee salary at the firm. The proposed rule also reflects public concern over disparate levels of executive compensation and the need to have this information available in an understandable format.

Peter Drucker, one of the 20th century’s best-known business theorists, wrote that the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay was best kept between 20-1 and 25-1. One way to reduce without cutting CEO pay is to raise the wages of the average worker.

The 32 Members of Congress to sign the letter noted that they found no credibility in the idea that the burdens of documenting the ratio between CEO pay and median employee compensation will be too high. “Companies already track how much they spend on personnel including salary and benefits,” the letter reads. “Firms that set up advanced computers for high frequency trading or that master the concept of just-in-time inventory should be able to figure out the median salary using basic software.”

While Congress is trying to create more transparency in CEO pay, organized labor took aim at corporation’s political spending.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, released the following statement:

We are disappointed that the Securities and Exchange Commission is not including a rulemaking to require disclosure of corporate political spending on its regulatory agenda for 2014.  The SEC’s Division of Corporate Finance had been previously scheduled to consider whether to recommend a proposed rule in 2013.

Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, we have seen a dramatic increase in political spending by corporations.  Yet much of this spending is not disclosed to investors who own public companies.  Without transparency, there is a danger that executives will spend money in ways that do not benefit investors.

Just as labor unions are legally required to publicly disclose their political spending, public companies should be held to the same standard. Nearly 700,000 individuals have written the SEC to support this requested rulemaking. We urge SEC to put corporate political spending disclosure back on its agenda for 2014.”

Many large companies are using their profits to sway political elections and then using their newly gained political clout to push for policies that only benefit the ultra-wealthy 1%.  Manly this is benefiting the corporations CEOs, while the company is taking more from the average worker for healthcare and benefits.

In the 2012 election there was an estimated $6 Billion dollars spent campaigning.  Most of that money was funneled through ‘Super PAC’s’ that do not have to disclose their donors.  Corporations donate millions of dollars to support candidates that will roll back workers rights and labor laws that greatly impact large employers.

We need more transparency from these corporations.  How is their money being used to influence the political process and how much they shell out to their CEO’s?  If we knew some of these details it would shed some light on how easy it would be for employers to raise the wages of the workers.

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