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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Funds' Proxy Voting Under More Scrutiny

by: Theresa Sim

Mutual funds' votes on global warming and executive compensation are not the only ones that are receiving scrutiny. In a recent report, Common Cause calls on funds to take a more active role in advocating the disclosure of political contributions.

According to the report, in the 2004 season, the ten largest mutual funds companies voted against or did not vote on shareholder resolutions requesting disclosure of political contributions. (In the 2004 proxy season, shareholders filed political contribution resolutions at more than 25 of the Fortune 500 companies, according to the report.)

The group is targeting mutual funds because of funds' large ownership stake in the equity market; Common Cause estimates that funds own 12.1 percent to 34.2 percent of companies who will face a political donation resolution in 2005.

Common Cause, not trusting the fund CEOs to change their ways, is calling on its own membership to vote for the relevant shareholder resolutions in 2005, urge fund investors to contact fund CEOs to vote for the resolutions, and write letters themselves to fund CEOs.  

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