Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the state’s pension fund is suing Qualcomm Inc. over how it spends shareholder funds for political purposes.
“As a shareholder in public corporations, the fund has a right to be properly informed about the use of corporate funds to influence the political process,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Without disclosure, there is no way to know whether corporate funds are being used in ways that go against shareholder interests.”
At $150 billion, the state’s pension fund is one of the largest in the country, and DiNapoli is its sole trustee.
Qualcomm has been politically active, spending $4.7 million on lobbying last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The New York Times reported today that Qualcomm’s founder, Irwin Jacobs, and some of the company’s top brass have contributed $2.3 million to Democratic super PACs and President Obama’s re-election bid.
DiNapoli is also a Democrat. There was no immediate comment from Qualcomm.
In a news release, DiNapoli said that since the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission Supreme Court decision in 2010, corporate political spending has soared but disclosure to shareholders has been minimal. He said the fund has joined other major investors in seeking more transparency of corporate campaign spending.
“Corporate spending for political purposes should be focused solely on creating shareholder value and should be done in a completely transparent manner. Qualcomm’s lack of disclosure of political spending prevents the Fund from determining if shareholder value is being furthered,” DiNapoli said.
Here’s the lawsuit: