ASA Sends Letter to House Leadership Opposing H.R. 1187
Bill stifles free speech, transfers money from retail investors to the Wall Street-industrial-complex
WASHINGTON – The American Securities Association (ASA) today sent a letter to House leadership strongly opposing H.R. 1187, which erects barriers for American businesses to engage in the political process and mandates burdensome ESG disclosures that harm mom-and-pop investors and make it harder for small businesses to raise capital and create jobs.
“Instead of moving forward in a bipartisan manner to improve corporate governance and enhance investor protections, H.R. 1187 is a divisive bill that stifles free speech and mandates ESG disclosures that prioritize the interests of Wall Street over those of America’s mom-and-pop investors, retirement savers, and small businesses,” said ASA CEO Chris Iacovella. “While ASA opposes this bill, we will continue to engage with members and the SEC to preserve our current disclosure system which ensures investors are provided with material information, including information that falls into the bucket of ESG. H.R. 1187 frustrates this goal, and therefore, we urge members oppose it.”
In its letter to House leadership, ASA opined on the following policy:
H.R. 1187 includes a section that would force corporations to disclose their political activities. Moving forward with a policy intended to stifle protected speech suggests this bill is less about providing investors with useful information, and more about silencing political opponents. Enacting policies to erect barriers for companies to engage in the political process on policy issues that are fundamental to their business violates the First Amendment.
Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Amendment
ASA appreciates that Congress will be considering, as an amendment to H.R. 1187, this bipartisan legislation to inform investors about the diversity of public company directors. While ASA supports the Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act, in April we recommended a number of changes to strengthen the bill prior to its markup by the Financial Services Committee. We continue to believe the diversity criteria must be expanded to include individuals of diverse viewpoints and diverse professional/educational backgrounds.
Rep. French Hill Amendment – SEC Study
ASA supports the approach taken by Representative French Hill’s amendment, which would require the SEC to study the inconsistencies and differences between ESG reporting frameworks prior to mandating new disclosures for public companies. To date, the SEC has failed to conduct such a study. As a result, the Commission has no way to know how current ESG disclosure practices already inform investors, or what specific areas could be improved upon to ensure companies only disclose material information. This study would lead to a more targeted approach that would mitigate unnecessary compliance costs and protect investors from unworkable mandates.
Mandatory ESG Disclosures
ASA’s letter to the Financial Services Committee in April outlined a number of recommendations and concerns we had with a series of ESG-related bills that were marked up by the Committee. Unfortunately, none of those concerns or questions have been answered. The beneficiaries of a prescriptive one-size-fits-all ESG disclosure regime would be an entrenched professional class on Wall Street of well-heeled corporate attorneys, auditors, mega-asset managers, proxy advisors, index providers, standard setters and investment banks. This begs the question: why is Congress using climate change as a reason to adopt policies that will transfer money from the public companies owned by America’s mom-and-pop investors directly to the Wall Street-industrial-complex? Retirees, working families, and those investing for a better future should have an answer to that question before the bill moves forward.
ASA’s regional financial services companies work in communities across the country to create jobs, grow the economy, and increase prosperity for all Americans. The ASA exclusively represents the capital market and private client interests of its members and seeks to promote free market principles making it easier to access financial advice and capital. ASA members help Americans save for retirement, provide Main Street businesses with capital to grow, and advise hardworking Americans how to create and preserve wealth. For the latest updates follow @AmerSecurities and learn more at http://americansecurities.org/.