- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Five more Fortune 500 companies have agreed to publicly report all direct and indirect political spending, according to New York’s comptroller.

Shareholder proposals calling for those disclosures were withdrawn after the agreements were reached with Coca-Cola Enterprises, Raytheon, Waste Management, Union Pacific and CenterPoint Energy, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

DiNapoli is sole trustee of the $178.3 billion New York retirement fund for public workers, which has investments in the companies.

“Investors have the legal right to know how corporate dollars are being spent in the political arena,” he said. So far, 32 companies have agreed to disclosures.

Similar shareholder proposals are pending at eight other companies where the fund has investments: Aetna Inc., Express Scripts Holding Co., Johnson & Johnson, NextEra Energy Inc., Nisource Inc., The Travelers Companies Inc., Western Union Co. and Wynn Resorts.

The push followed the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case that government restrictions on corporate and union campaign expenditures violate the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. The ruling upheld disclosure requirements.

The shareholder proposal asks companies for a complete public report of spending on candidates, political parties, ballot measures, direct or indirect state and federal lobbying and payments to any trade associations or organizations used for political purposes or to write and endorse model legislation.

Others that have agreed included Dean Foods, Eastman Chemical, H&R; Block, Marathon Oil, U.S. Steel and Valero Energy in 2015, as well as Comcast Corp., CF Industries following 66 percent support in a shareholder vote and Peabody Energy in 2014.

Earlier disclosure agreements were made by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Harley-Davidson Inc., KeyCorp, Noble Energy Inc., PepsiCo Inc., Plum Creek Timber Company Inc., Qualcomm Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co. in 2013; CSX Corp., The Kroger Co., PG&E; Corp., Reynolds American Inc., R. R. Donnelley & Sons Co., Safeway Inc. and Sempra Energy in 2012; and Limited Brands, Marriott International Inc. and Yum! Brands Inc. in 2011.

In 2014 at H&R; Block, almost 76 million voting shares favored the shareholder proposal, 74 million joined management in opposing it and 58.5 million shares abstained.

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