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NY Comptroller: PG&E, Safeway, Sempra Agree To Disclose Political Spending

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES PG&E Corp. (PCG), Safeway Inc. (SWY) and Sempra Energy (SRE) will disclose political spending made with corporate funds under an agreement with the New York State Common Retirement Fund. The California companies will describe their decision-making process for political spending and what oversight was provided by the management and board in that process under the agreements, according to New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The PG&E agreement also includes a provision to provide further disclosures of the company's policies and procedures regarding political lobbying activities. "These agreements are a victory for shareholders and another step forward for transparency and accountability in the wake of the Citizens United decision," DiNapoli said in a release. "It is my hope that other companies will follow these companies' leads by agreeing to fully disclose their political spending activities," he added. The 2010 Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, prohibiting the government from restricting political expenditures by corporations and unions. The New York state pension fund, as of Feb. 10, held 1.43 million PG&E shares worth $59 million, 2.5 million Safeway shares worth $54.3 million and 1.06 million Sempra Energy shares worth $50.8 million. The state comptroller has filed 17 shareholder resolutions this year on behalf of the state pension fund, asking for full disclosure of political spending. DiNapoli said the agreements announced Thursday are the first results of those efforts. -By Melodie Warner, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2283; melodie.warner@dowjones.com

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